Firefighter’s son hit, killed days before turning 7

Kent County

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The son of a Cascade Township firefighter was hit and killed just five days shy of his 7th birthday.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office says 6-year-old Ryan Marsman was riding his bicycle across Laraway Lake Drive at Cascade Road when he was hit by a pickup truck.

Crash scene on Laraway Lake Drive and Cascade Road
Emergency responders on the scene of a crash at the intersection of Cascade Road and Laraway Lake Road in Cascade Township. (June 13, 2019)

Deputies say the driver, 22-year-old Matthew Klaasen of Ottawa County, was turning from Laraway Lake onto Cascade Road and didn’t see the boy. Sgt. Joe Roon with the sheriff’s office said the preliminary investigation indicates the driver was at fault in the incident.

Cascade Township firefighters had no idea when they arrived at the scene Thursday evening that they would be trying to rescue the son of one of their own.

A makeshift memorial at the intersection for firefighter Andy Marsman’s son continued to grow Friday.

“I was noticing the balloons that are going up and I said to myself, ‘Maybe I should go buy a balloon myself,’” said Bud Korhorn, who lives on the corner where it happened.

Korhorn came home to the crash.

“I saw the bike underneath the pickup truck,” he said.

Korhorn’s grandson, also a firefighter, was there to help.

“It was my grandson that was on the scene at the time they arrived, and of course he recognized Marsman right off the bat,” he said.

Korhorn said his grandson rode to the hospital with Ryan to support his father.

“For the sake of having… somebody at his side that he knew,” he explained.

Firefighters were taking it especially hard Friday. Most of them knew the boy.

“That’s the way our firefighters are here in this area,” said Korhorn.

“It’s one big family and they’re a good group of guys,” he added.

It’s a loss felt across a department and community just days before Father’s Day and Ryan’s June 18 birthday.

“In my prayers last night, I think, what a difficult time for Mr. Marsman and his family,” Korhorn said.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help cover Ryan’s medical expenses and funeral arrangements.

Friday, Cascade Township Manager Ben Swayze issued the following statement:

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family at this most difficult of times. An incident like this saddens all of us, Township staff, residents and our community alike. Cascade Township will fully cooperate as the investigation continues.

“This incident strikes especially close to home, since this is the child of one of our own team members. Out of respect for their privacy, we are not planning to release a name or further information at this time.”

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