Police seek identity of body found in river

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:46 PM

Police said it was the body of a white male, but have not identified it as of press time.

"I knew there was something bad going on when I saw them put the police tape out," an onlooker said.

Karen Wade wondered if it could be a person she watched coming down the hill with a flashlight the previous night. The Indiana woman who is staying on a boat at the Municipal Marina said they saw the light near the end of Tuesday night’s Musical Fountain performance.

Police said they were checking to see if anyone had been reported missing.

"A dredging crew located the body and made the report" shortly before 9 a.m., Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said.

Tom O'Brien, area engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Grand Haven, said the King Co. of Holland was moving its dredging vessel out of the way at the time so a freighter could get up the channel.

"That's when they saw the body,” he said.

O'Brien said the dredging crew noted the body was dressed only in swim shorts. During the recovery, it appeared to be wearing sky-blue swim trunks.

Hawke said the body was floating when it was discovered.

Officers from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety, Ottawa County Sheriff's Department Marine Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard cooperated in removing the body from the scene, east of the Musical Fountain on the river’s north shore, shortly after 10 a.m.

Two Grand Haven officers donned wetsuits before entering the water to retrieve the body and place it on a backboard. A county Marine Patrol boat maneuvered back and forth to shield the area from onlookers as the Grand Haven officers pulled the backboard into the water to complete their delicate operation.

Officials recorded the incident with a camera as the body was moved onto the platform and covered with a yellow body bag. The body was then taken by a county boat to Coast Guard Station Grand Haven.

Hawke said they have yet to determine how long the body was in the river. He said they are working on identifying the dead man and to determine the circumstances of his death. An autopsy was planned for today.


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