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Heroic OPP Staff Sergeant Awarded Stearns Rescue of the Year

Published By: Jonathan Lee

Richard Lusklett and his 12-year-old son, Alex, were out for a canoe trip on Lake Superior’s Black Bay in June of last summer. The weather changed suddenly and a wave knocked over and swamped their canoe, losing their cell phone and gear as well as trapping them on the rough waters.

Fortunately, both were wearing lifejackets and had left Richard’s wife, Angela, with their trip details. Richard and Alex were a half kilometer from shore holding onto their swamped canoe, trying to maintain their position in deteriorating weather conditions.

After not showing up at their arranged return time, Angela became worried and reported them missing to a local fisherman. After the fisherman couldn’t find them, she contacted the OPP. Trenton dispatched a Hercules to search the area.

Angela also reached out to Dan Peters of the OPP, who she knew had a camp in the area. Peters left immediately to join the search.

Suffering from hypothermia, Richard and Alex continued to fight waves that continuously capsized the canoe again and again. After about five hours, the duo spotted the search boat Peters was aboard, waving their arms to signal for help.

Despite five-foot waves, Peters found and somehow managed to recover Alex and Richard from the frigid waters. Richard and Alex had drifted so far from shore it took nearly 20 minutes to get back to Peters’ camp. Along the way, Peters continued to check on the Luskett’s condition, even joking with Richard about the great lengths he had gone to in order to avoid having to cook the family dinner that evening.

Peters also contacted Angela and instructed her to prepare blankets. After a 20-minute trip back to shore, Peters and Lusklett family members prepared Alex and Richard for transport to Thunder Bay Hospital. Richard’s core temperature was only 32 degrees, even after being out of the water for three hours. Both father and son fortunately survived thanks to the fast action and clear thinking of Dan Peters, who was also gracious enough to go back out and save their canoe.

Undeterred by the experience, the Luskletts have since been out fishing on Lake Superior.

The Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) in partnership with outdoor product manufacturer, Stearns, honoured Dan Peters for his heroic efforts with the Stearns Rescue of the Year Award at the annual Canadian Safe Boating Awards held in Toronto earlier this year. Great job Dan!