Grand Haven Tribune: Foul play not suspected in death of missing GH man

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Foul play not suspected in death of missing GH man

Jon Mills/WZZM-TV • May 15, 2019 at 9:41 PM

MUSKEGON — Grand Haven investigators say they're not sure why Jeffery Steven Scarbrough, 29, was found inside his Honda Pilot submerged in the Muskegon River on Tuesday evening, but they do believe the reason does not involve foul play.

State police divers recovered the Grand Haven man's body near the Creston Road Public Boat Launch in Muskegon County’s Muskegon Township.

Results of an autopsy were still pending Wednesday evening.

Scarbrough’s family said he was last heard from Saturday afternoon when he used his cellphone while driving from a golf course in Muskegon County, 3 miles from the boat launch. He was on his way to pick up his young son in Fruitport and take him to Chuck E. Cheese.

A resident who lives near the boat launch said he saw the white Honda Pilot drive down the dirt road Saturday evening, but didn't think much of it until he saw reports about the search for Scarbrough. He checked his surveillance video and tipped off police using Silent Observer.

Capt. Clint Holt of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety said the tip prompted investigators to go to the boat launch Tuesday. Police used a drone to spot the vehicle in the water, and they then deployed a dive team.

"I can't really speculate as to why he was here," Holt said.

Lt. Greg Poulson of the state police said the Muskegon River is higher than normal and there is a drop-off at the end of the boat launch ramp.

"There have been up to 10 vehicles in that same area that have entered the water in past years," Poulson said. "Very easily could have been an accident."

Creston Road is a dead-end gravel road with an unimproved boat launch for small motorized watercraft, canoes and kayaks. Leading up to the river, there are multiple "road ends" signs and a large berm that drivers approaching the river have to drive around.

Years ago, an elderly woman who suffered from dementia drowned after driving into the river. A fisherman's truck and boat trailer were pulled into the river by a swift current; he escaped. Police say they've pulled stolen cars out of the river near the boat launch.

In 2003, a woman drowned after driving into the river. Police weren't able to determine why her car went into the water.

The warning signs begin about a mile from the river, and there's another at 2,200 feet from the water and several just before the boat launch.

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