Noel said he thought it looked more like a mannequin. Johnston ran down a couple of the boat slips and insisted that it was a human body floating down the river.
Johnston called 911 while Noel grabbed a long boat pole.
“We kind of chased it down the river,” Noel said.
The body was in the middle of the south channel and moving fast. When it got to the bend in the channel, they were close enough to reach it with the pole and pull the body to shore.
“I was skeptical — right until I actually grabbed it with the pole and I could tell it really was a body," Noel said.
Noel said it appeared to him that the body had been in the water a long time because it was bloated.
Officers from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety, with breathing masks and dressed in dry suits because of the still-chilly water, retrieved the body from the river.
Noel said the body was a white man with a bald head. He was only wearing a T-shirt, which appeared to have an American flag on it. The man also had a tattoo on his leg, the marina owner said.
Grand Haven police are still working to confirm the identity of the body.
Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said a preliminary identification has been completed, but they are collaborating with other law enforcement agencies to positively identify the man.
Lt. Joe Boyle said there are currently no missing person reports from the Grand Haven area.
Hawke said the case is not believed to be related to any activity originating in Grand Haven.
Boyle said they could not determine if the man had any identification on him, or whether he had suffered injuries.
The cause of death has not yet been determined. The body was taken to Holland Hospital for an autopsy.
More information will be released when it becomes available, police said.
There is no evidence of foul play on a body found in the Grand River on Thursday.
Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said an autopsy was completed Friday, but the cause of death remains undetermined pending further forensic analysis. Positive identification of the body will also require forensic testing, he said.
"Based on all available information, the deceased individual is not a resident of the Grand Haven area and the case is not related to activity originating in Grand Haven," Hawke said.
Detectives continue to work closely with other law enforcement agencies on the investigation, he added.