Harbor Beach, MI (In Lake Huron) Freighter DANIEL J. MORRELL Sinking, Nov 1966
FREIGHTER SINKS IN HURON; 28 CREWMEN FEARED DEAD.
ONE SURVIVOR FOUND AFTER HUNT ON LAKE.
Harbor Beach, Mich. (AP) -- Rescue forces searched the storm-lashed area of Lake Huron today where the Daniel J. Morrell sank with a feared loss of 28 lives and only one known survivor. It was the worst Great Lakes disaster in eight years.
Eleven bodies were recovered Wednesday. The Coast Guard spotted a 12th body next to an empty liferaft but said gale-force winds and huge waves prevented it from recovering the corpse.
Three Coast Guard cutters braved winds of 30 to 40 knots and a snow squall during the night to criss-cross the area south of Harbor Beach and a small area west of Point Aux Barques in the tip of the Michihgan thumb.
The search turned up a life raft with underclothing
frozen to its deck, an oil can and a board, all bearing Morrell markings.
A search plane and two helicopters remained aloft most of the night but were forced down before dawn when snow cut visibility to about a half a mile.
More than two days of snow squalls and subfreezing temperatures cut down hopes that the freighter's other 16 crewmen survived by launching lifeboats and riding out the gale.
Its fate concealed by the storm for 34 hours, the 603-foot Morrell snapped in two Tuesday morning and sank in 145 feet of water 20 miles northeast of Harbor Beach, a town at the tip of Michigan's Thumb District.
Twenty-nine crewmen were aboard, said John Hanninen, a legal representative of Bethlehem
Steel Co. which had leased the 60-year-old ship.
"I saw two life boats launched before the ship sank," said deck watchman DENNIS HALE, the survivor. Plucked from a liferaft by a helicopter, HALE was clad in undershorts, pajamas and a pea jacket when found lying beneath the bodies of three crewmates who died from exposure.
An empty liferaft bobbed on waves near the coast and a life ring and debris from the Morrell washed up on the snow covered shore at the northern tip of the Thumb District. The wreckage was found by a 100-man search party that scoured the shoreline during heavy snow.
The blinding snow hampered the search by three Coast Guard cutters over a 400-square-mile area of Lake Huron. The storm grounded Coast Guard aircraft during most of the hunt.
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