Man rescued after possibly spending days injured in remote Northland swamp
A 72-year-old man was rescued from a remote swamp in northern St. Louis County on Friday morning, apparently after spending several days in the elements after an all-terrain vehicle accident.
Gerald Evenson was unresponsive — bruised, dehydrated, covered in bug bites — when he was found off a forest road north of Orr. He was listed in serious condition at a Duluth hospital on Friday night.
“It’s amazing that he was found,” said St. Louis County Rescue Squad 2nd Lt. Jon Olson. The swamp is “so thick and so remote. … He’s extremely lucky.”
According to Olson and Sgt. James McKenzie of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, Evenson — who lives in the remote area east of U.S. Highway 53 — apparently left his residence on an ATV earlier in the week, possibly on Wednesday.
“He was driving his ATV and hit a stump, and was possibly thrown from it and injured. (He) tried to make his way back home and collapsed along the way,” McKenzie said.
It appeared that Evenson left the trail and perhaps was trying a shorter cross-country route.
“He was cutting across the swamp and didn’t make it,” Olson said.
Neighbors noticed that Evenson hadn’t been seen in several days, found his wrecked ATV and called authorities. McKenzie said the neighbors located Evenson in the swamp, and then rescue workers extracted him from the remote area. It was about an 11-mile drive from Highway 53 along a minimally maintained road called Camp 90 Forest Road, Olson said, and then another mile or so by ATV to reach Evenson. Camp 90 Forest Road meets Highway 53 a few miles south of the Ash River Trail, and angles southeast toward Elephant Lake.
Evenson was airlifted by Life Link III to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth. Other agencies assisting in the search and rescue were the Orr and Kabetogama fire departments, Kabetogama First Responders, Orr Ambulance and International Falls Ambulance.
Temperatures in the area climbed to near 80 degrees on Thursday, with overnight lows in the upper 40s to lower 50s, according to the National Weather Service.