ALPENA - On Saturday, Derek Soltysiak and his five-year-old son conducted a water search and rescue just north of Sulphur Island during what should have been a worry-free fishing trip. However, Soltysiak said the water was too choppy Saturday afternoon, making fishing almost impossible. He said he decided not to take the boat out, but fished on shore because something did not look right.
"I took the little guy out fishing, but when we drove out to launch the boat, the water was too rough. That's when I saw another boat out there. I watched it drift, but didn't see anyone on the boat," he said.
Soltysiak said after a few more casts and watching the drifting boat appear closer to shallow waters, he could see that no one was on the boat.
"I called 911, took my boat out and threw the drifting boat's anchor out. Then, I went out looking to see if we could find anyone. My son actually saw him swimming near Partridge Point in about four to five feet of water. He must have swam around two miles, he was pretty brave for swimming across those rough waters," he said.
Soltysiak said after his son found the man in the water, they were able to quickly pick him up and bring him safely back to his anchored boat.
"He must have been in his late 40s and out there by himself. As soon as we found him we called 911 and told them we found him while we got him to safety. You always expect to see something like this out there, but it makes you a little nervous when you see something like that. It's really not something you want to see," he said.
Alpena Central Dispatch confirmed a man came across someone near their boat, north of Sulphur Island area, and that a samaritan did their own search and rescue around 6:20 p.m. on Saturday. The dispatcher said no medical attention was needed and EMS was not sent.
Attempts to contact the Coast Guard were unsuccessful.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687.