NEWAYGO, Mich. (WOOD) — A break from the heat and a little fun on the Muskegon River turned into frustration and anger for dozens who found their cars had disappeared — and it was going to cost them $200 to get it back.
People came to the state Department of Natural Resources boat launch in Newaygo County only to find the official parking lot filled to capacity so they parked where they said they believed they were directed only to find their cars towed away with no indication of how or why.
“This is trickery,” said Connie Taylor of Montcalm County.
Several people said they were directed by DNR agents at the launch to park as long as they didn’t block the road.
“I parked off in the grass, along with everybody else, and no signs were posted, no nothing, I went tubing I came back and my car was gone,” said Tristan McCullum of Grand Rapids.
“We definitely wanted to follow the rules, we weren’t trying to skip paying any fees or anything like that,” said Armando Diaz of Newaygo. “It was full we didn’t really have a lot of choice.”
By the time peole found their cars gone, the DNR outpost at the launch was empty.
Once people found their cars, they were charged $200 to get the car out.
“And we’re actually discounting them, we’re not charging storage,” said Jake, a tow truck company employee who moved some of the cars.
How many people were towed depends on who you talk to.
The people who were towed said t drivers told them 50 to 60 people had been towed.”
“Sixty times 200, y’know, figure it out that’s a lot of money for people,” said Taylorn
“I only towed a couple, I had to do other things,” Jake the tow truck driver said.
The man who owned the property and asked for the cars to be towed estimated “probably 20.”
If 50 people were towed, that’s $10,000 in fees collected in one afternoon.
Jake, an employee of one of at least three tow truck companies, explained it this way.
“The DNR called us to remove a couple vehicles and while we were there, property owner came out, his driveway was completely blocked and asked us to remove vehicles as well.”
There are signs, some more visible than others, warning against trespassing and parking.
“The DNR wouldn’t tell them to park on this road, this road has to be accessable in case there is an emergency,” said Greg Stratz, who owns a large chunk of property next to the launch.
“That drive way was just full of cars It was hard to get in and out of that driveway,” Stratz said.
He said that he has asked people to move before and found himself threatened.
Stratz said Saturday was the worst he’s ever seen it in terms of people and cars.
“Everybody who comes off that river pretty much buzzed up,” Stratz said. ” I’m just doing this so I don’t have that confrontation anymore.”
The landowner plans to fix things by next summer.
“It’s suggested I put a fence up here and probably I’m gonna work on doing that.”
The owners of the cars blame the DNR for allegedly directing them to park there and then allowing the cars to be towed away.
They were exchanging contact information and plan to take some kind of action against somebody to get their $200 back.