Grand Haven gets beach safety upgrades; $20K needed

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Haven officers are teaming up with community leaders to raise money for life-saving updates to the city’s beaches.

Community members started pushing for safer beaches 15 years ago after a 17-year-old Andy Fox died. Fox drowned in September 2003 after getting caught in a rip current.

Since then, police say they’ve averaged about two drownings a year. However, three people drowned last year — two of them on the same day— which sparked the Beach Safety and Rescue Initiative.

“It’s too many. One is too many,” said Sgt. Lee Adams with Grand Haven Public Safety. “We can’t avoid everything, but the better we can make it, the safer people can be out here.”

As part of the beach safety initiative, police added 14 life rings and zoning signs that help rescue teams locate victims faster at a time when seconds count.

Life ring and zone 3 sign on Lake Michigan beach in Grand Haven
A June 27, 2019 photo shows one of the life rings and zone signs installed on Grand Haven’s beach along Lake Michigan.

“There’s been times when we’ve gotten out here and if we would’ve been here earlier there may have been a different result,” said Adams.

Officers also added an AM transmitter that continuously broadcasts safety information.

Grand Haven Public Safety is partnering with the local rotary club to continue their efforts. On Thursday, they’re hosting a fundraiser at the Grand Haven Farmer’s Market at Chinook Pier to raise $20,000 for the program.

“It definitely makes it real when you see what has happened and also when you see the people who have risked their lives to save those individuals,” said Brook Bisonet with the Grand Haven Rotary Club.

The event runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is open to the public. Admission is $40 per person and includes food and drink.

Organizers say 75% of the money raised will go toward paying for the signs already installed at the beach. They’ll also use some money to establish a fund to replace equipment as needed.

Those who would like to donate but cannot attend can find out more about the efforts on the Grand Haven Rotary Club’s website.

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