Mundelein man dies on rafting trip
Rescue workers respond to Piers George in Norway Township after a rafter fell and disappeared beneth the Menominee River Whitewater Tuesday afternoon. | Theresa Peterson~Iron Mountain Daily News
Updated: September 17, 2012 11:43AM
A Mundelein man died after he fell off a raft in the Menominee River, along the Michigan-Wisconsin border, authorities said Aug. 8.
The Dickinson County, Mich., Sheriff’s Department said 59-year-old Mark Fackler of Mundelein was part of a group rafting on Piers Gorge when the raft tipped over Aug. 7. A second person who fell out was OK.
The Iron Mountain Daily News reported that the Dickinson County Sheriff ‘s Department received a 9-1-1 call at 1:41 p.m. Aug. 7 reporting a missing rafter on the river.
Sheriff’ Scott Celello told the newspaper the owner of Northwoods Adventure of Vulcan, Mich., reported a male and female were thrown from a raft after striking a large rock in the rapids.
Celello said the female was able to make her way out of the rapids, but the male was trapped by the current under the rock and never surfaced.
“Despite best efforts by rescuers, they were not able to access the area of the rapids where the man was reported to be trapped — until the water flow was reduced by the dam above the rapids,” Celello told The Daily News
The dam that was shut down to assist in the rescue operation was at the Little Quinnesec Falls, which is owned by Northbrook Energies.
Had life jacket
After the water level and flow were reduced, rescuers were able to reach the rock in the rapids. At 4:16 p.m. Aug. 8, rescuers located the victim trapped under the rock.
Fackler was wearing a life jacket and helmet at the time of the accident, authorities said.
Located south of Norway, Mich., Piers Gorge features bedrock walls up to 70 feet high. Beneath them, the Menominee River channels through a passage just 80 feet wide. The river, normally 300 feet wide, rushes and tumbles for about a mile and half over a series of four waterfalls.
Four rafting companies in the area offer guided whitewater trips down the Menominee River.
The rafting fatality was just the second drowning in the Piers Gorge area of the Menominee River in the last six years.