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Pier ice - fun yet perilous

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:58 PM

“Reports were received on three separate occasions Saturday of people falling through near the piers,” said Chief Jeff Hawke, director of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.

**SEE full Public Safety report of ice rescues from the weekend in PDF attached below**

Police assisted three people on the pier Sunday afternoon and responded to another call of a woman who had gone through the ice just after 6:30 p.m.

Emergency crews responded to the North Pier at 2:47 p.m. Saturday to assist a man to the shore who had fallen through the ice.

“It was just like our training session earlier this week,” said GHDPS Sgt. Lee Adams. “He was trying to save his dog that went through the ice.”

Police responded back to the pier at 4:45 p.m. Saturday on a report of a wet, cold and disoriented man in the parking lot asking for help, Hawke said. He had also fallen through the ice.

Hawke said he received a report Saturday morning by email of a man who had fallen through the ice while trying to take pictures between the piers. Onlookers assisted the man to shore.

Around 3 p.m. Sunday, police responded to the South Pier where a woman had slipped and fallen, injuring her ankle. She was assisted to shore and transported from Grand Haven State Park by ambulance.

Police barricaded the entrance to the park for a short time to allow emergency personnel access to the area that was abnormally busy for this time of year.

Adams said while assisting the woman, a 14-year-old boy slipped off the pier onto the channel ice. He was not injured, but was unable to get back on the pier.

And, while assisting the boy, a 7-year-old girl also slipped off the pier into the channel ice.

“Her parents were watching her look over the edge and she just slid right off,” Adams said. She was not injured.

Police were called back to the South Pier about 6:40 p.m. on a report of a woman who had gone through the ice, but was being assisted to a vehicle in the parking lot.

“The ice is not safe,” Hawke said. “Those that walk on the ice are putting themselves and rescuers at risk.”

Still, the atmosphere was festive among those venturing out on Lake Michigan next to the South Pier, where a wide, flat area made walking fairly easy.

“I grew up here and I’ve never seen it like this,” said Adam Walendzik as he and his wife, Kathleen, pushed their son, C.J., across the ice in his stroller.

“It blows my mind walking out here where I surf,” Adam said.

Randy and Tracy Bremmer of Grand Haven tagged along beyond the pier heads as their triplets – Natalie, Daniel and Anna – clambered over ice formations.

Randy said it’s been five years since they checked out the icebergs on Lake Michigan.

“It’s amazing how many people are out here,” he said.

The Kirn and Moore families of Rockford joined together to get their five children out of the house.

“We came because of all of the people who have posted on facebook on it,” said Anne Moore.

“It’s a natural wonder,” said Tami Kirn.

The women agreed it was a little crazy.

“Traffic is worse than in summer,” Moore said.

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