Five DNR Parks and Recreation Division employees have been honored for going above and beyond the call of duty to help rescue two snowmobilers who had been stranded overnight near the Porcupine Mountains in late January.

DNR Director Keith Creagh handed out DNR Director’s Awards to four Porcupine Mountains State Park staff members – Justin Farley, David Merk, Jimmy Newkirk and Emily Pleiness – and one Western U.P. District Supervisor, William Doan, in Roscommon last week.

Upon hearing that a father and son from Albertville, Minnesota were stranded, the Parks and Recreation group volunteered to head out on snowshoes to search in sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions. Overcast skies and whiteout conditions made an aerial search impossible.

The lost pair had weathered overnight temperatures of -15 degrees.

After several hours of off-trail snowshoeing, the rescue team made contact with the snowmobilers, who were showing signs of hypothermia but were otherwise conscious and alert.

“This recognition is a tribute to our dedicated personnel in every state park and recreation area throughout Michigan, who are well trained and always prepared to assist in any situation,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson.

Each honored employee was nominated for a DNR Director’s Award by his or her supervisor. Director Creagh said, in presenting the awards, that it was a privilege to recognize the staff. Each also received a special recognition plaque from the office of Gov. Rick Snyder.

“We know that DNR employees have a meaningful impact on many of our customers’ lives, but it isn’t often they actually save those lives,” Creagh said. “We are proud to honor these five employees for their exemplary service to the citizens of the state of Michigan.”

The DNR rangers were part of a search and rescue effort coordinated by the Michigan State Police, in partnership with the Michigan Civil Air Patrol, Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Department, Ontonagon County Community Emergency Response Team, Ontonagon County Emergency Manager, U.S. Forest Service, DNR Law Enforcement Division, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard, AmericInn of Silver City, Sled Necks of Wisconsin, Sonco Ambulance, and many other local volunteers.