Missing pair found after canoe flips several times in Tahquamenon River

Posted at 12:29 PM, Aug 04, 2021

PARADISE, Mich. (AP) — Two people who were missing after their canoe overturned several times in the Tahquamenon River have been found following a search in a heavily forested part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Conservation officers located Ezequiel Gianfranco, 19, of Homestead, Florida, and Nathalie Hoste-Skrzypek, 20, of Chicago, on Monday in a boat operated by a good Samaritan, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

Gianfranco and Hoste-Skrzypek were overdue by three hours when friends reported them missing about 6:30 p.m. Sunday to staff at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, near Paradise and northwest of Sault Ste. Marie.

“They had traveled to the falls with some friends from the Chicago area for a day trip to visit the falls,” conservation officer Cole VanOosten said Tuesday in a news release.

They split into two groups in rented canoes.

“It became readily apparent that the missing friends were ill-prepared for the trip as they had no food or water and they were unfamiliar with the area,” VanOosten added. “They were also inexperienced in operating a canoe.”

As VanOosten and a park ranger began searching Sunday evening for the pair, Gianfranco and Hoste-Skrzypek called their friends to say their canoe had overturned and that they made it safely to shore, according to the DNR. They were walking along an off-road vehicle trail when a cellphone battery ran out of power.

As VanOosten and the park ranger located the canoe about 8:45 p.m., roughly 5.5 miles (8.8 kilometers) from where the paddlers entered the river. Authorities searched a 7-mile (11.2-kilometer) radius of their last known location but were unable to find them.

A Coast Guard helicopter joined the search about 2 a.m. Monday. Two other conservation officers spotted Gianfranco and Hoste-Skrzypek late Monday morning in the good Samaritan’s boat.

The pair told officers that they spent Sunday night in a small cabin. A person living nearby took them downriver in a boat. They were reported to be in good condition afterward.