Police swamped during CG Festival

A woman throwing a small child off the pier was one of about 150 calls handled by police on the final Saturday of the 2012 Coast Guard Festival.
Becky Vargo
Aug 7, 2012


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.




This headline (which was front page, above-the-fold in huge letters) is extremely misleading! When you go on to say that the police and Coast Guard officials all said it was a fairly tame weekend, with no major issues, then how is that "swamped"? This article is almost as bad as the one last week which just listed every type of call/incident that police reported to, followed by the poll about whether or not we feel safe during the festival. This is not journalism, it's just the Tribune trying to create a story. Yes, the police get more calls during the festival, because there are more people in town, and activities going on. However, they've been doing this for a long time, and they seem to be prepared for what it brings.


I live in North Grand Haven,what used to be called Olde Town. It seems to never fail that people that live here turn their yards into parking lots. I have nothing against that until they park cars over the sidewalks. This happens every year. It would be nice if there was an officer on a bike or even walking the Elliott to Washington, First street to Seventh street issuing tickets to both the owner of the car and the person doing the parking. Of coarse we have people parking over the sidewalks all year and they never get a ticket. So I suppose on Coast Guard day it would be to much to ask to keep the sidewalks open for the thousands to use.


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