Police recover Special Olympics triathlete's bike from channel

Becky Vargo • Jun 20, 2018 at 6:11 PM

A spattering of cheers filled the air Wednesday afternoon as officers from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety fished an adult tricycle from the Grand River.

The salvage effort might not have been conducted except that the customized tricycle belonged to a Special Olympics triathlete.

The teen lost his vehicle in the Grand Haven channel following a panicked ride down the hill between the Riverview Shops and Snug Harbor late Wednesday morning.

“I yelled at him to use his brakes,” said his mother after the 11 a.m. incident. “He panicked and was going too fast. He went off the wall.”

The teen, who is special needs according to his mother, went into the channel with his bike.

But because he competes in the triathlon for Special Olympics, he was able to swim to the ladder and climb out on his own, she said.

The mother, who was also completely soaked, said she jumped into the water to retrieve her son’s sandals. He needed them for the walk back to their camper at Grand Haven State Park.

Equipped with a 500-pound magnet on a long rope, supplied by the Wharf Marina, officers fished up nails, pipes and other assorted pieces of metal as they searched for the bike a little after 1:30 p.m. At one point, officer Dana Beekman pulled up what she thought was a gas tube and threw it down on the boardwalk. Minutes later, she picked it back up and realized it was a bicycle lock.

A quick telephone call to the mother confirmed the lock was from the tricycle. Officers then concentrated their efforts on the area and the magnet hooked up with the bike.

A grappling hook, also provided by The Wharf, was brought to the channel. Three tosses later — at about 2:38 p.m. — the three officers hauled up the bike.

Onlookers clapped and cheered.

“That’s one of the best things that’s happened in a while,” Beekman said.

A quick call was made to the family, already on their way home to the Grand Rapids area.

“You could hear how excited he was,” Beekman said of the youth. 

The family planned on turning around to go back to the Department of Public Safety office to collect the bike.

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