Keweenaw County deputy receives award

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Keweenaw County Deputy Matthew Eberly (left) received a Lifesaving Award, along with a standing ovation from all who were present, for risking his own life to save that of a drowning paddler from high seas of Lake Superior outside of Eagle Harbor during a severe storm in June. Keweenaw County Sheriff Curt Pennala presented the award.

EAGLE RIVER — Deputy Matthew Eberly on Wed. received a Lifesaving Award for risking his life and safety to rescue a drowning paddler from Lake Superior in June.

Sheriff Curt Pennala, who presented Eberly the award at the regular Sept. County Commissioner Board meeting, read about Eberly’s efforts from a statement released from the sheriff’s office shortly after it occurred, but included details the release omitted.

At approximately 2:40 p.m. on Sunday, June 19, 2022, the Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to Eagle Harbor for a report of a (person) in a canoe out past the bell buoy — a few hundred yards beyond the harbor entrance. It appeared as if they were having difficulty returning to the safety of the harbor.

Pennala said that a few moments later, it was reported that the canoe had sunk and the paddler was in distress.

Eagle Harbor Fire, along with Medical First Responders, were first on scene, and with the aid of bystanders and two private boats, began to search the area around the bell buoy. But, due to high winds and seas and lightning, they had to turn back to the dock.

“Deputy Eberly, who served with the U.S. Marines, and is a retired conservation officer and now a deputy with the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office,” said Pennala, “was working that day on ATV patrol when he heard the call go out.”

Eberly returned the ATV and procured the rescue personal water craft (PWC) owned by the Sheriff’s Office and went to the scene to assist.

“With the help of onlookers in the (Eagle Harbor) Lighthouse, Deputy Eberly, risking his own life, after 45 minutes, was able to locate the paddler,” Pennala said, “who was now laying lifeless in a fetal position.”

Eberly was able to secure the person to the side of the PWC and return him back to the harbor, where additional rescue personnel were able to come to aid. The person was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for severe hypothermia and water intake.

“It is without a doubt that Deputy Eberly saved a life that day,” Pennala said, “thanks to his quick actions and outstanding performance.

“With that I would like to thank Deputy Eberly (for his) service to his country, and county of Keweenaw, and award him with this Lifesaving Award.”


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