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Police swamped during CG Festival

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:40 AM
bvargo@grandhaventribune.com 616-842-6400 ext. 231

Fortunately, it turned out the kid had a life jacket on and the mother was dropping the child down to the grandmother in the water, near the base of the pier, said Lt. Joe Boyle of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.

Emergency officials stayed busy during the past weekend, but most of the calls were fairly routine, according to Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke. The calls ran the gamut from failure to pay for gas to a lost child, dog found on the beach to fights, and a couple dozen traffic complaints.

Although the number of calls was up significantly from a normal summer weekend, Hawke said the festival “was a resounding success” from a public safety standpoint.

“On Saturday, 50 firefighters from the surrounding area took to Dewey Hill to provide fire suppression for the fireworks,” he said. “More than 30 police officers from GHDPS, Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, Michigan State Police and Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department provided foot patrol in the downtown and waterfront area.”

Hawke said officers were also joined by law enforcement recruits from area colleges, who provided assistance with traffic control.

“No major issues were experienced with crowd control,” Hawke said.

Police calls included motor vehicle crashes, intoxicated or unresponsive people, minor domestic disturbances, parking complaints and heat-related medical emergencies earlier Saturday.

It was relatively calm in the water, too.

“The weekend was actually fairly tame,” said Sr. Chief Kirk McKay of Coast Guard Station Grand Haven.

There was a hoax call on Friday night about a sinking boat, McKay said. Officials were not able to track the "boater" down, who was actually on land.

Also on Friday, a Coast Guard crew responded to a boat in Lake Michigan that was possibly adrift, McKay said. It turned out the man had anchored the boat and stayed overnight so he could start fishing early in the morning.

“There was no bad weather coming, so we let him be,” McKay said.

McKay said the Coast Guard conducted a lot of spot checks of boats on Saturday. One boat without navigation lights and one without a fire extinguisher were turned back.

There were also a few disabled and adrift boats, but all of them were helped by other boaters or by a towing company, McKay said.

Officials were concerned about a storm that was projected to hit the area in Saturday evening. The wind changed and caused some of the rafted boats to go out into the channel a little, but it turned out somewhat uneventful, McKay said.

Boat traffic was lighter than normal because of the storm threat, McKay said.

On Sunday, a Coast Guard crew responded to a water rescue near Rosy Mound, but canceled their response when the missing person was located safely.

Later in the day, officials found out someone had been swept off the pier, but a life ring was thrown and the person was immediately pulled out, McKay said.

Saturday's weather had an impact on the shore crowd as well, Hawke said. “It was estimated that crowds decreased by approximately 25 percent when the rain started on Saturday at approximately 7:45 p.m.,” he said.

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