GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Quick action by an off-duty Grand Haven Department of Public Safety officer helped save one of several people who nearly drowned in Lake Michigan at Grand Haven State Park Tuesday night.

The beach was closed after the series of close calls.

Grand Haven public safety officer Kelvin Miller was off duty, spending the early evening with his kids at the park.

“I was at the playground with my 8- and 6-year-old,” Miller said.

When his daughter saw the red flags warning of dangerous condition in the water she wasn’t happy.

“Before the incident, I explained to her we didn’t want to go swimming on the red flag day to avoid this sort of situation,” Miller said.

Moments later, the lesson became real: Miller’s phone went off. It was dispatch.

There was trouble in the water.

“I looked at it. Saw it was area four, which is actually right off the playground,” Miller said.

A beach safety sign at Grand Haven State Park.

He grabbed some rescue gear off a DNR Gator that had arrived and went to work.

A man had swam out to rescue his two children who were on a raft. Bystanders were able to get the two kids to shore, but their dad was going under.

Miller dove in and began swimming towards the man in trouble. It was a rough swim.

“Big waves. If you weren’t planning for them, they’d go way over your head. So luckily with a life jacket, I was able to float over the waves,” Miller said.

He managed to reach the man.

“I walked him through what I was going to do. I told him not to pull me under the water, that I had flotation, that the flotation was sufficient enough to hold him above the water as well,” Miller said. “He was pretty exhausted. Grabbed on to him. Was able to pull him back to shore.” 

On-duty rescuers were already on their way to the beach after getting a call about another man struggling while trying to help his wife to shore.

Both made it back OK.

While crews treated the man Miller pulled from the water, a third rescue call went out, after a woman from the Lansing area had to be pulled from the rough waters.

Everyone was fortunate, as they all survived.

For the man Miller pulled out of the water, timing was everything. 

“When you think about, it takes us a couple of minutes to get to the scene, a couple of minutes to get gear on. So being here right away definitely helped with that process,” Miller said.

The beach was back under yellow warning flags by Wednesday morning and reopened.

For more on beach safety and what a flags color mean for swimmers, go to