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updated: 8/9/2012 8:42 PM

Mundelein man dies in Michigan rafting accident

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A 59-year-old Mundelein man was killed in a river rafting accident Tuesday in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Mark D. Fackler was on a guided rafting trip on the Menominee River in Norway, Mich., when the raft he was on struck a rock formation and went airborne Tuesday afternoon, according to Dickinson County Sheriff Scott Celello.

Fackler was on a raft with his wife, Susan, two other passengers and a guide, and both he and his wife were thrown from the raft after it struck the rock, Celello said.

Susan Fackler was able to reach the shore, but those on the raft lost sight of Mark Fackler in the rapids.

Authorities said although Mark Fackler was wearing a lifejacket and helmet, he became wedged between rocks and was unable to surface.

Rescue crews were called to the river at 1:41 p.m., and it wasn't until shortly after 4 p.m. that Fackler's body was discovered, Celello said.

Authorities had to stop the flow of the dam upstream to lower the level of the river to safely reach the area where Fackler was trapped, according to Celello.

Officials said the area where the accident occurred, called Piers Gorge, channels the river through a passage about 80 feet wide, while the river is normally 300 feet wid. The stretch lasts about a mile and a half and includes a series of four waterfalls.

"There is some white water," Celello said. "We aren't talking anything like Snake River in Colorado, but you do get some rapids."

Celello said rafting accidents are uncommon on the river, and in his 26 years working for the sheriff's office, this was just the second death.

Fackler, an Army veteran, according to his obituary, was described as a naturalist and had a mastery of the kitchen and an ability to rock out to the Grateful Dead.

He is survived by his wife, daughters Elizabeth and Sarah, stepdaughter Emily and stepson Timothy.

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. -- Authorities have identified the body of a rafter found in the Menominee River along the Michigan-Wisconsin border as a Mundelein man.

The Dickinson County sheriff's department in Michigan tells WLUC-TV that 59-year-old Mark Fackler of Mundelein was part of a group rafting on Piers Gorge when the raft tipped over Tuesday afternoon. A second person who fell out of the raft managed to get out of the water.

Authorities say Fackler's body was found later in the day. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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