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Boaters OK after being swamped near Petty's Bayou Bridge

Becky Vargo • Apr 20, 2019 at 12:22 PM

SPRING LAKE TWP. - Two boaters were rescued late Saturday morning when their boat reportedly capsized on Spring Lake near the Petty’s Bayou Bridge on Fruitport Road. Their large dog also made it to shore.

Emergency crews responded at about 10:40 a.m.

Jerry White said that he and fellow fisherman Pheng Phommavong were at the State DNR boat launch at Petty’s Bayou, getting ready to load their boat when they heard cries for help.

The two men jumped in their boat and made their way to the couple struggling in the water. They were unable to pull them into their small fishing boat and could only help one person at a time.

White said they helped the woman to shore first while the man stayed with the boat. They went back and helped the man to shore. Both of the victims remained in the 45-degree water as they were rescued.

John Molyneux said that he was cleaning his boat on the trailer when he heard the yelling. He ran up on top of the bridge as the other boaters went to aid the victims.

“They were on the other side of the bridge,” Molyneux said pointing toward Spring Lake. “They were low in the water and the wind was pushing waves over the back of their boat before they capsized.” 

The Robinson Township residents were not able to stay in the boat when the water came over the back and swamped it, said Sgt. Brian Buter of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. Alcohol was not a factor in the incident. Police declined to name the victims.

One witness said the boater were not wearing life jackets.

Emergency crews arrived on the scene as the man was being assisted to shore, said Spring Lake Fire Capt. Scott Smith.

“They were very fortunate there were other boaters nearby who were able to assist,” Smith said.

The man and the woman were taken by ambulance to North Ottawa Community Hospital for observation for hypothermia, Smith said. They were otherwise OK.

Firefighters secured the German shepherd dog and Smith said that Animal Control was going to pick him up.

Called to assist at the scene was the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety with their cold water rescue suits. A boat from Coast Guard Station Grand Haven also responded to secure the boat, but the other fishermen had already pulled it to shore.

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