German man saved on frozen sea by webcam spotter

February 4, 2010 By DESMOND BUTLER , Associated Press Writer
The sun shines onto the ice-covered beach of St. Peter Ording, at the north sea coast, Germany, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/dapd/Axel Heimken)

(AP) -- Watch the sunset, save a life.

A woman admiring the sunset on a tourist in northern Germany spotted a man who was lost on the frozen and probably saved his life by alerting authorities, police said Wednesday.

The man had climbed over pack ice off the coast to photograph a sunset near the town of St. Peter-Ording, then became disoriented on the ice, Husum police spokeswoman Kristin Stielow said.

Unable to locate the beach, the man began using his camera to flash for help. That got the attention of a woman hundreds of miles (kilometers) away in southern Germany who was watching the over the sea on her computer.

The woman contacted police, who located the man's signals and guided him into shore by flashing their car lights. Officiers then lectured him on the dangers of trekking on the ice.

Police would not identify the man or the woman who spotted him. Stielow said he was a German tourist in his forties.

She said locals are well aware of the risk of disorientation as darkness falls and the beach becomes hard to identify, but vivid sunsets over frozen landscapes often draw people away from the shore.

At the time the man lost his bearings, the was below freezing. He could have frozen to death or fallen through the ice, Stielow added.

St. Peter-Ording is popular tourist destination known for its beaches and sailing, and the local tourism board runs a Web site with a webcam. The board, however, said images from the webcam are routinely erased and the dramatic flashes from the man's camera were not saved before the story came to light.

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