Monroe County deputies rescue woman entangled in phragmites

Sheriff: Missing woman gets confused, falls in water near marina

By Michelle Ganley - Online Editor

LaSALLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Nearly 24 hours after investigators started searching for a missing woman, a helicopter pilot and a flight officer spotted her in a marsh behind Lighthouse Harbor Marina, which led to the woman’s rescue.

Watch raw video: Woman brought to shore

Mary Fletcher had gotten confused, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and she somehow ended up in a large clump of phragmites along the shore. Officials found Fletcher just after 5:45 p.m. Friday, near the marina at 5800 South Otter Creek Road in LaSalle Township.

Phragmites are large grasses found in wetlands.

Fletcher became entangled in the phragmites and fell down in the water, officials said. She was unable to get up, and suffered injuries from being in the water for a prolonged period of time as well as the onset of hypothermia, a news release said.

Fletcher was taken to St. Vincent Medical Center in Ohio to be treated.

Monroe County deputies were first sent to the North Shores area about 7:30 p.m. Thursday to look for Fletcher. The sheriff said search efforts were suspended at 2 a.m. and would resume in the daylight hours Friday.

Once the sun came up, deputies searched the surrounding areas for Fletcher with no success. A Sheriff’s Office helicopter was involved, along with Fletcher’s friends and family, who looked for her throughout the day.

The sheriff didn’t receive any tips on Fletcher’s whereabouts.

At 4 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office assembled a search-and-rescue team made up of deputies, the Michigan State Police, U.S. Border Patrol and the LaSalle Township Fire Department.

The community became involved as well, with some people even looking for Fletcher on all-terrain vehicles and searching ditch lines and fields, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The group spent about an hour and 45 minutes combing the area while the helicopter circled overhead.

It was helicopter pilot Deputy Don Duncan and tactical flight officer Deputy Brian Francisco who spotted Fletcher in the water.

Francisco then guided Deputy Mike McClain and Sgt. Rob Moody into the water to rescue the woman. They got Fletcher to shore safely.

The sheriff thanked all the law enforcement officers for their help with Friday’s efforts.

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