Inmates injured

(FULL STORY) Ambulances took three Ottawa County Jail inmates to North Ottawa Community Hospital after their work-release van backed into another vehicle on Monday afternoon in Spring Lake.
Becky Vargo
Mar 25, 2014


Two other inmates were transferred to an Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department patrol car after the crash and taken back to the jail.

All of the injuries were minor and damage was minimal, said Sgt. John Wolffis of the Sheriff’s Department, who policed the scene.

Wolffis said a county corrections officer driving the Sentence Work Abatement Program (S.W.A.P.) van started to pull off School Street and onto westbound Savidge Street at about 1:20 p.m., but stopped due to an approaching eastbound vehicle. The van backed up to allow the car to pass, and the van’s trailer hitch hit the bumper of a Toyota Camry that was stopped behind it on School Street.

Damage to the car was minimal and the driver was not injured, Wolffis said.

The five inmates in the vehicle initially said they were not injured, but four of them later reported injuries and requested an ambulance, Wolffis said.

The corrections officer driving the van notified his superiors of the incident.

Although the incident occurred in the Village of Spring Lake, Wolffis said the Sheriff’s Department handled the case because it involved a Sheriff’s Department vehicle. Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police were notified of the incident, officials said.

A call to acting Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Joe Steinhauer was not returned by press time.

“If this would have been a very serious crash, we would have requested an outside agency,” said Capt. Bob Tease, who is in charge of the Sheriff’s Department’s road patrol. “It is not uncommon — if it’s a very minor accident, we police it ourselves.”

Tease said the crash report would be forwarded to a review panel. Then the sheriff and undersheriff will look at the incident and decide whether or not any additional action will be taken.

The corrections officer driving the vehicle is not suspended, Tease said. The conditions of the inmates taken to the hospital were also unknown, he said.


Barry Soetoro

Judging by the photo of the damage to the Camry's bumper those inmates are lucky to be alive. Fortunately NOCH EMS was close by and was able to get these alleged victims transported safely. Hope they're OK and can serve out their sentences.

Tri-cities realist

Yep they must have had to use the jaws of life to extricate the alleged victims. I'm sure the van had to be traveling at least 3, 4, or maybe even 5 mph!

Hopefully Bert will be more careful next time.


Give em a inch.........


It is becoming harder and harder to read any article written by Becky. The title of this article should have been inmates fake injury!! These inmates have taken and wasted our tax dollars to pay for three ambulance trips, three cat scans and all the other cost that go along with it. Instead she seems to be trying to dig up a story about wrong doing in the accident investigation because the Sheriffs Department investigated it. This is not a big incident, however she seems set on turning it into a huge story. Departments all over the United States routinely investigate minor traffic incidents involving their staff, it is not unusual. The photos clearly show this is no big deal! If Becky has an issue with the Sheriffs Office she needs to stop covering them and allow someone that is impartial to take over her roll. If you want a real story maybe someone should investigate the fire chief that gave her a department owned fire pager so she can run around town covering these front page stories. That seems like a proper use of government property..........

Barry Soetoro

In this specific instance I fully support police brutality and capital punishment.


At least they would have had a reason to be transported to the hospital!!!!

Tri-cities realist

Allegedly or for real? ;-)


"Inmates injured?" / "after the crash?" What the hell? This was not a crash, this was a rolling bump between two vehicles. Look at the photo!!!! This is a scrape! I could have caused more damage with my clipboard. The inmates stated they were fine before changing their story. Why is this story not focused on this obvious lie as a headline?

In my opinion, after these inmates are cleared of their fabricated injuries, the courts should tack on 6 more months to their sentence for lying to investigators in falsifying their injuries.

In addition, these inmates should be required to repay the cost of the ambulance service, hospital treatment and my own pain & suffering for reading such an inept written story.

Tri-cities realist

I like your last thought.


Just more waste of money for these losers.
And in an ambulance,what crap.


I just got to finally sit down and read the paper edition today. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is front page news. Please tell me that this article is there because it's written by a local third grader that received honorable mention for the local "Be a Tribune Reporter for a Day" contest.

Tri-cities realist

Hate to disappoint you but...

Barry Soetoro

I'm sorry you paid money for the print edition.

Tri-cities realist

Hopefully he was at the library or Starbucks.


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