Man, 81, rescues himself from bayou

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:31 AM

The Northwest Ottawa County Dive Team was starting to respond to the 2:50 p.m. call when first-responders confirmed the man had made it to shore on his own.

Bill VandeBerg said he had put his boat in the water at Felix’s Marina, 14023 Green St., and had been fishing for about four hours when he swamped his boat.

“I got a fish on,” he said. “I leaned over to the side and netted it. As I leaned over, the side went down and took on water.”

VandeBerg said he fell out of the 10-foot pram into the water, but was able to stay with the boat. He said the water was well over his head and he was about 100 yards away from shore, so he yelled for help, and then swam in, pulling the boat with him.

Robinson Township firefighter Dana Beekman, one of the first emergency responders on the scene, said the man was walking out of the water when she arrived.

“He’s in better shape than a lot of 40-year-old men,” Beekman said with a smile.

Firefighters bailed the water out of VandeBerg’s boat while the older man was being checked over by paramedics from North Ottawa Community Hospital.

VandeBerg said he was OK and declined to be transported to the hospital.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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