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Superior snowmobiler found alive after two days, nights in subzero weather

Craig Friebe of Superior, seen here wearing his usual snowmobiling jacket, went missing Saturday. (Photo courtesy of the Superior Police Department)

After being missing for two days and two nights in bitter cold, a snowmobiler from Superior has been found alive and taken to Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth for treatment, according to the Superior Fire Department.

A plow operator on County Road W found Craig W. Friebe, 52, on foot on the ice of the Nemadji River at about 8:50 a.m. and called 911 for assistance. The Douglas County Sheriff's Department responded, and Friebe was transported for treatment of apparent frostbite and signs of hypothermia.

Friebe's sled apparently ran out of gas far up the river, and he had to walk out of the area where he had been snowmobiling, according to the Superior Fire Department. Battalion Chief Vern Johnson said Friebe had a fire the first night but not Sunday night, when the temperature in the area reached 15 to 20 degrees below zero and wind chills hit 40 below.

Friebe had not been seen since Saturday morning, when he went snowmobiling in the Superior area. The search focused on the Superior waterfront, the Nemadji River, the Tri-County Corridor from Superior to Brule and the Wild Rivers State Trail between Superior and Oakland.

The Superior Fire Department and neighboring fire departments began their search for Friebe at 9 a.m. Sunday. That search also included members of the Douglas County Sheriff's Department; the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; and firefighters from Superior Township, Parkland Township, Amnicon Township, Maple, Poplar and Brule.