Swimmer hit by watercraft on Gull Lake, dies

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

RICHLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A swimmer has died after being hit by a watercraft on Gull Lake Sunday afternoon, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office said.

It happened around 1:45 p.m. The victim died from the injuries he sustained.

Witnesses tell News 8 the swimmer was in an area of the lake that is adjacent to the sandbar or “tinkle town” as they referenced it.  They say the area is heavily trafficked by boaters.

Neighbors say safety on the lake has been a concern over the last few years as the number of swimmers, who may not have extensive knowledge of the waterway, visit the area more often.

“I think both parties are going to be affected by this from now until forever and as a parent and a boater I think that could have happened to anybody,” said one neighbor who asked not to be identified. 

The neighbor says she knew the young man who was driving the watercraft. She says she wishes the swimmers were wearing some kind of safety gear.

“It’s very hard to drive a boat and see a head bobbing up and down. It’s lake 101 that if you’re going to swim you need to wear a swim cap that is bright colored or a bobble on the back of your back that you can see,” she said.

“As a boater, I feel terrible for this to happen and I feel terrible for the swimmer, but I would hope that maybe there’s some resolution in this,” she added a moment later.

The operator of the watercraft was taken into custody and was released after undergoing blood alcohol testing. The results of the test are pending as of Sunday evening.

Deputies are not releasing the names of the victim or watercraft driver at this time.

Police have not announced any charges against the driver.

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