A man was rescued near Lake Superior in subzero temperatures Tuesday morning after his car hit a guardrail and plunged down 50-75 feet, landing near Lake Superior, according to the Duluth Fire Department.
He was "somewhat conscious, but very cold," a department statement said. The air temperature was 13 below zero at the time of the rescue.
"It did appear that he had been there for quite a while," said Duluth's Deputy Fire Chief Bryan Bushey, adding that the exact length of time was unknown.
The patient was injured, but Bushey said he does not know extent of his injuries or his current condition.
Ken Greshowak, 61, of Duluth, spotted the car when he was outside his driveway ready to take pictures of the sunrise over Lake Superior around 7 a.m. Tuesday. He said the car fell then hit a boulder, and rolled to the ground landing just before the open water.
Firefighters arrived to the scene eight minutes after the call, according to the fire department statement. The car was at the 8700 block of Congdon Boulevard.
Bushey said firefighters did not have to use extrication equipment to get him out of the car, "we just had to use some manpower to get him back up to the ambulance."
About 15 firefighters responded to the accident, along with Gold Cross Ambulance and the Duluth Police Department.
The department said the man was moved up the cliff to the roadside using a stretcher and rope haul system. Incidents of vehicles that have gone off the road into the lake shore are common in Duluth, he said, because of roads so close to the lake, Bushey said.
"There was nothing significant about the rescue other than the fact that the vehicle had fallen a significant distance and the occupant was very fortunate that somebody spotted it when they did, and called," Bushey said.
The witness, Greshowak, after he noticed the car, he yelled down the cliff to ask if anyone was there. He heard the voice of the man.
"I kind of looked around and thought, 'Who's going to help me help this guy?'" Greshowak said. "And then I had to think to myself, this one's just up to me, you know, get it in gear."
He took a foot path down to the lake and found the man in the passenger seat of the car, in a fetal position, wearing only a T-shirt, he said. Greshowak took off his coat and wrapped it around the man, and began talking to him. The man went in and out of consciousness.
"He kept asking me a lot of questions that didn't make sense --- a few of them were asking if he was dead," Greshowak recalled. "And I reflected that it was just a beautiful sunrise he was looking at."
As they waited for help, Greshowak said he tried to keep a sense of humor going to help both of them, and he was worried that there were others around the car or in the ice.
Emergency responders later found no other people in the accident.