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Tag Archive | "DNR conservation officers"

Conservation officer rescues two men stranded offshore of Drummond Island

Conservation Officer Todd Sumbera has been with the DNR Law Enforcement Division since July 2018 and is assigned to Mackinac County.

Two stranded men from Chicago repeatedly expressed their gratitude to Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Todd Sumbera after he rescued them from rough water near Drummond Island Friday afternoon, August 7.

Sumbera was conducting marine patrol offshore in Chippewa County, north of Drummond Island, west of Harbor Island, at approximately 1:43 p.m. when he saw two people in the water clinging to an overturned personal watercraft.

As Sumbera approached, he identified himself as a conservation officer there to help. The younger of the two, a 41-year-old man who didn’t know how to swim, was panicked and exhausted, saying, “Thank God.” Both men were improperly wearing torn life jackets and had been in the water for about 10 minutes.

“I’m happy that Sumbera safely returned the men to shore in what could have been a much worse situation had the men not been wearing life jackets,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “This is an example of how wearing a life jacket can save a life.”

After Sumbera helped the men onto his patrol vessel, he determined both to be in stable condition.

The older man, 64, told Sumbera that they had never operated a personal watercraft and the high winds and rough water swamped them extremely fast when they put the watercraft in reverse.

Sumbera towed the waterlogged watercraft back to the Drummond Island Yacht Haven and returned the two men to shore. He advised the men to obtain and use properly fitting, well-maintained life jackets before their next next adventure.

There have been several drownings and near-drownings in Michigan this summer. If your plans include time on the water, please refer to the DNR website https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/ for important tips on boating and Great Lakes beach safety.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect residents by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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DNR conservation officers play vital role in capture of child abduction suspects

Conservation Officer Corporal Kevin Postma

Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers located a 5-year-old boy who was abducted Wednesday night, March 13, helping to arrest the suspected kidnappers as they tried to flee with the youth across the ice of Whitefish Bay to Canada.

The incident began about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, when the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a domestic dispute at a residence that involved a stabbing.

Conservation Officer Calvin Smith

Investigators went to the home and began to piece together the details of what had happened.

George Stephen Cunningham, 53, who is the boy’s biological father and a registered sex offender on a tether, and 68-year-old Jon Scott Stygler had gone to the house armed with knives, chemical spray and blunt objects.

The residence is located on Whitefish Road in Paradise, in the northeast corner of the Upper Peninsula. The boy was reported to be at the home with his aunt, a man and three other children.

Police said Cunningham and Stygler bound and gagged a woman outside the home, and then placed her in a parked vehicle. The two men then went inside, spraying the occupants with chemical spray, taping their mouths shut with duct tape and binding them using zip ties.

While the suspects searched the house for the boy, one of the victims was able to get free and stab at least one of the suspects. The men then left the house, taking the child.

They were reported heading north in a camouflage pickup truck. The vehicle was found parked in a driveway at a home on Blueberry Lane, situated about 5 miles north of the house.

At about 10 p.m., sheriff’s deputies contacted Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Corporal Kevin Postma, asking for help because of a concern the suspects may resort to traveling with the child via snowmobile.

Postma contacted Conservation Officer Calvin Smith for assistance.

Smith hauled patrol snowmobiles to Postma’s location. While getting ready to begin their 60-mile drive to Paradise, the conservation officers were told to meet up with officers from several other agencies at the house on Blueberry Lane.

Police established a perimeter around the house and contacted the homeowner, who had no connection to the suspects or the child. After learning that the child and suspects were not at the house, Postma and Smith began looking for their tracks in the snow.

“There is only one road, Smith said. “There is no other way to get away unless you have a sled.”

Postma, Smith and sheriff’s Deputy Doug Mitchell located the suspects’ tracks and began following them. The footprints led to Whitefish Bay.

“The ice was turning to slush. If we got off our sleds, the slush was up to our knees,” Smith said.

Following the zig-zagging path about 3 to 4 miles across the slushy ice, the three officers caught up with the suspects.

Cunningham and Stygler were traveling on foot, pulling the child on a sled. The boy was in a sleeping bag, with instant meals the suspects had packed.

Cunningham had cut his tether off.

At about 1:10 a.m. Thursday, the officers stopped Cunningham and Stygler, who were arrested without incident. The officers confiscated the weapons and belongings the two men had with them.

Postma and Smith transported the child, Deputy Mitchell and the suspects on the DNR patrol sleds back to the house on Blueberry Lane, where deputies, Michigan State Police troopers and Whitefish Township EMS personnel were waiting.

“There was no way they were going to make it all the way to Canada,” Smith said. “They would have eventually fallen through the ice, which had recently been broken for ships by an ice breaker. They were not dressed for the conditions, especially with the wind. One of the suspects was even beginning to show signs of hypothermia.”

The suspects did not require medical treatment and were released to the custody of the sheriff. The young boy was cold, but in good condition.

“In addition to being prepared with equipment to navigate difficult terrain, conservation officers have received specialized tactical tracking training,” said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “This is the second situation this week that our officers have worked with local law enforcement agencies, utilizing their search and rescue skills. I’m thankful to hear that our officers and Deputy Mitchell were able to rescue the child, and that he is doing well, given the situation.”

Cunningham and Stygler were arraigned Thursday, March 14, on multiple charges in Chippewa County District Court in Sault Ste. Marie. Cunningham was jailed without bond; Stygler was being held on a $1 million bond, with a tether required should he post bail.

Deputies said the child has since been returned to his legal guardians and is doing well.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

For more information about conservation officers, visit Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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