Bogus emergency on Kzoo River could cost mom $2K

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EMMETT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A search on the Kalamazoo River may cost a woman thousands of dollars.

The Emmett Township Department of Public Safety says the woman’s daughter called police during the late night hours of July 27, saying her mother was lost on the river near Battle Creek.

According to Lt. Tony Geigle, first responders spent about three hours searching from the water and along the shoreline.

“It was a very exhaustive search going down the river and it was dark,” Geigle said.

The shallow sections of the river along with downed trees made the operation more difficult.

downed tree in Kalamazoo river
An Aug. 5, 2019 photo shows one of the downed trees that pose a danger to rescuers on the Kalamazoo River in Emmett Township.

“Because of the river conditions it was very tasking to try and get the boat through some of these challenging areas of the river,” Geigle said.

Rescue crews realized the woman wasn’t in any danger when, with the help of cellphone data, they discovered she was near Paddlers Grove Park.

“She apparently saw our rescue boat,” Geigle said. “She didn’t call out, from the information that we have, and I think she was probably thinking, ‘Oh, this has gotten out of hand.’”

Police say the woman’s daughter called 911 thinking her mother really was lost.

“There was a conversation that had gone on between the family about getting lost on the river, how easy it was to do. As a result, we had somebody who thought they were going to make a life lesson moment,” Geigle said.

Even though the mother was trying to teach her daughter a lesson and never intended for police and firefighters to respond, rescue crews say it still put them at risk.

“It seems like it’s not a big deal, but people can get hurt. People can die and these things need to be taken seriously,” Geigle said.

The department may seek about $2,000 from the mother to cover the cost of the search, but has not made its final decision.

The agency wants people understand just how many resources were wasted on an unnecessary search.

“We had at least probably about six firefighters that were involved in the search efforts itself we also had our law enforcement officers that were on the road at the time,” Geigle said.

No charges are being filed against the daughter since she thought her mother really was in danger. Police say they are also not seeking any criminal charges against the mother.

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