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Duck hunters rescued after boat capsizes in Grand River

Becky Vargo • Oct 9, 2016 at 6:49 PM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — Four duck hunters were rescued from a choppy Grand River Saturday morning when the wake from a passing boat swamped them and caused them to capsize.

The two fathers and two sons were wet and cold, but otherwise unharmed, said Michigan Conservation Officer Ivan Perez.

The hunters’ identities were not available.

Perez that conditions were really blustery for the opening day of the waterfowl season.

“There were 1-2 foot rollers in the main part of the Grand River,” he said.

The hunters were in a 14-foot boat already loaded down with camouflage, Perez said. Add the hunting equipment and the four hunters and you’re already sitting low in the water.

Perez said the hunters were heading upriver, in the area of 152nd Avenue and Boom Road, shortly before 10 a.m. when a large pleasure boat passed them and threw up a large wake.

The hunters tried to maneuver their boat to ride the wake, but were swamped and the boat capsized.

Perez said the pleasure boat continued on.

“They probably didn’t know what happened,” he said 

Conservation officers were already in the river upstream, to start a patrol for duck hunters when they received the call for help.

Spring Lake Township Fire/Rescue also responded.

“Some other duck hunters helped them out of the water,” said Capt. Steve Bruneau. “They were loaded onto a neighbor’s boat, who took them to shore.”

Paramedics checked over the hunters, but did not transport them, Bruneau said.

The conservation officers tried to pull the swamped boat to shore, but couldn’t do it, given the conditions and their own small boat, Perez said.

They attached a yellow buoy to the boat in case it went adrift.

The hunters planned to come back later to try to retrieve the boat, he said.

Perez emphasized the importance of wearing life jackets when going out in these kinds of weather conditions.

He emphasized that it’s a lot more difficult for a person wearing lots of warm clothes to stay afloat.

The duck hunters in this incident did have life jackets and coolers to help them float.

Perez said he did not know if the hunters were wearing the life jackets. 

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