Stuck in the sand

Becky Vargo • Apr 24, 2017 at 3:30 PM

Crews worked all afternoon Monday to free two pieces of heavy construction equipment from Lake Michigan that became stuck off the Grand Haven State Park beach.

A local contractor doing beach cleanup at the state park was using a bulldozer to pull a tree out of the water when the machine became stuck in the sand sometime around 1 p.m., according to Lt. Chip Wright of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.

The contractor used his excavator to work the bulldozer free, but then the excavator became mired in the sand at the water’s edge. It wasn’t long before both machines sunk deep into the sand and became surrounded by water.

A third-party contractor with larger equipment was called for assistance. 

State park rangers closed off the beach in the area where the extrication work was happening. 

The Ottawa County Hazardous Materials & Technical Rescue Team responded to clean up any oil or fuel spilled by the machines. Booms were also placed in the water to contain any spill.

Sgt. Josh Tomes of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety said there was a small oil spill from the bulldozer and a hose was used to remove diesel fuel from the excavator.

A U.S. Coast Guard environmental crew also responded to oversee operations.

Crews first hooked up a chain to the bulldozer and pulled that machine out of a relatively calm lake while work continued on Grand Haven’s south pier in the background. 

The bulldozer was back on the beach by about 4:30 p.m.

Crews next pulled the tree out of the water.

The excavator was back on dry land at about 6:15 p.m.

Police said the local contractor had been doing beach cleanup in Grand Haven and Holland for more than 25 years without ever experiencing such an incident.


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