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Conservation officers save woman from 70-foot cliff

Michigan Conservation Officers David Miller and Kyle McQueer saved a Baraga County woman Thursday from falling down a cliff to the Lake Superior ice below.

The incident began at about 8:35 p.m. Thursday with a call to Central Dispatch in Negaunee Township from the 25-year-old L’Anse woman saying she was stuck on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Superior.

She told a dispatcher she was holding on to tree roots and she wasn’t exactly sure of her location. Miller and McQueer responded to the area to assist Michigan State Police troopers with the search.

Troopers said the woman’s phone signal was showing her location to be about 700 feet north of Haanpaa Road, which is not far outside the Village of L’Anse, to the north.

“Just as we passed Hannapaa road, we were flagged down by an individual who could hear someone hollering for help from somewhere down the cliff,” Miller said.

The two conservation officers located the woman part way down the face of the 70-foot cliff. They worked their way down toward her. McQueer stayed above the woman while Miller continued down until he reached her.

Miller held the woman in place.

“She told me she had Huntington’s disease, and had very little-to-no strength in her arms and legs,” Miller said. “She had been holding on to tree roots to keep her from falling the rest of the way down the cliff and onto the ice below.”

Huntington’s disease is a rare hereditary condition in which the brain’s nerve cells break down gradually, affecting physical movements, cognitive abilities and emotions.

Miller asked McQueer to go back to the vehicle and get a tow strap or a rope. He returned with a tow strap and tied it to a tree, tossing the other end down to Miller.

The woman held onto the strap while Miller lifted her to a safer place on the cliff face.

Officers from other departments had begun arriving at the scene, including a state police trooper and officers from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and Baraga police departments.

McQueer and a Keweenaw Bay officer tied the tow strap around the woman.

“Once she was secure, all of the officers pulled her to safety,” Miller said.

The woman was taken to her mother. She did not seek any medical attention.

Miller said the woman told him she wanted to go to visit a friend. While walking, she wanted to go down to the lake. She put her leg over a guard rail and moved toward the lake. She lost her footing and started falling down the side of the cliff.

She slid to a place about halfway down the 70-foot embankment before she was rescued.

The name of the woman was not released.

Miller, who is originally from L’Anse was hired to work for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in 1996. McQueer, from Otsego, was hired in July 2017 and is currently working in his probationary period with the department.

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.

Learn more about Michigan conservation officers at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.