Lucky To Be Alive: Hiker Spots Man Stuck in Snowy Ravine

Ryan Juntti
Updated: January 01, 2019 08:06 PM

Duluth Police say the man rescued from a Duluth ravine near the Lake Superior Zoo on Monday night is believed to be homeless.


On Tuesday, police identified the man as 36-year-old William Berger.

Lt. Chuck O'Connor said on Tuesday it is safe to say the man had been in the ravine for two days, and probably up to four.

Related: Authorities Rescue Man from Ravine near Lake Superior Zoo

He was found by a man who was walking on the Superior Hiking Trail. 

It was a heroic rescue on Monday night that happened in the nick of time.

"I think that if he hadn't been found yesterday, he would not have survived," said Lt. O'Connor.

In a 20-foot ravine, Lt. O'Connor says a hiker noticed what appeared to be a person in a sleeping bag, later identified as 36-year-old William Berger.

"He saw this person, he could see the person was obviously alive, he could see steam coming out of it like the person was breathing. He did try calling out to him, the person did not respond," said Lt. O'Connor.

Lt. O'Connor says the hiker also noticed there were no shoe prints near the sleeping bag Berger was in, which is when the hiker called police.

Officer Jeremy O'Connor was on scene during the rescue, and says when he arrived, the snow was untouched, leaving him to believe Berger had been there for awhile.

Berger was described by police as being alive, but incoherent when he was found.

"He was kind of moaning, somewhat talking, somewhat coherent, but for the most part he was kind of out of it, didn't know what was going on, but just able to answer quick, basic questions, yes or no questions about his condition," said Officer O'Connor.

It is still unclear why Berger was in the ravine, but Officer O'Connor believes he went down there to get out of the wind.

But regardless, one thing is clear. He is very lucky to be alive.

"When you get that bitter cold, those bitter winds, it's a whole different animal," said Lt. O'Connor.

And all involved are grateful that this situation had a positive outcome.

"This is what we all train for, this is what we're here for, and overall we saved a male's life," said Officer O'Connor.

Police say when Berger was found, he told them he was hurt and needed to go to a hospital.

Essentia Health spokesperson Maureen Talarico says Berger is in "fair" condition there.


Ryan Juntti

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