CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say a pontoon boat with eight young people on board crashed into a concrete bridge pillar under the M-6 overpass.
Officials say three of the teens were taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, one of which has critical head injuries.
The crash happened just before 7 p.m. Friday on the Thornapple River near the Maracaibo Shores boat launch in Forest Hills, near I-96.
All the teens were from the Forest Hills/Cascade area and celebrating high school graduation, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities say a nearby fisherman saw the crash and called 911. A quick response allowed authorities to get the teens to safety, police said.
Herman DeGroot told 24 Hour News 8 he witnessed the crash while he was fishing on the river. He boated over to help the teens to get out of the water.
“(The) pontoon boat hit the bridge head-on, full speed, it looked like,” DeGroot said. “I saw the bodies flying. At least three or four of them went into the water.”
While the investigation is still ongoing, authorities believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Officials say the boat was severely damaged, but the owner was able to drive it home.