Boy, 15, remains in hospital

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:41 AM

Jake Sloan, who will be a sophomore this year at Grand Haven High School, significantly injured his chest in the incident, Lt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department said.

“He is in critical condition,” Bennett said.

Detectives were sent to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids on Thursday to interview the boy, but hadn’t yet reported back to Bennett as of late Thursday afternoon.

“At this particular point it (the explosion) looks like an accident,” Bennett said. “Still, we’re concerned with why he did it in the first place.”

Emergency crews were called to the Sloan home in the 12000 block of Lakeshore Drive about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday after an explosion shook the neighborhood and the boy’s older sister found her injured brother outside.

Bennett said the Sloan was using a stick lighter and attempted to ignite a flask filled with black powder. Police don’t know how much powder was inside the flask.

It was not a pipe bomb, or homemade bomb, as was initially reported by emergency officials.

Sloan was found in the yard on the south side of his home, near a damaged section of fence.

“It looks to me like he was (inside the fenced area),” Bennett said. “It looks like he hit that fence post and broke it off.”

Grand Haven Township Fire Chief Tom Gerencer reported on Tuesday that the boy had a traumatic chest injury, and injuries and burns to the arms, hands and face.

Sloan’s condition wasn’t made available by hospital officials on Thursday.

The 15-year-old was alone in the yard at the time, and it doesn’t appear that he intended to harm anyone or himself, Bennett said.

Bennett noted that Child Protective Services has been called in to do a parallel investigation — something normally done when a child is involved and injuries are serious.

“They check to make sure there is no gross negligence involved,” Bennett said.

Once the investigation is complete, it will be given to the Ottawa County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review, Bennett said. This also is normal procedure in a serious injury incident.

Bennett said he didn’t believe any charges would come from the incident unless there appeared to be gross negligence.

Howard and Sharon Behm, whose son lives behind the Sloans, said they have known Jake a long time.

“He’s a real curious boy and he always likes to be busy,” Sharon said. “He has a huge heart.”

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