Quick thinking, good planning helps avoid boating tragedy

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EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Would you know what to do in a boating emergency? An East Grand Rapids family did and it likely saved their lives.

Brad and Jen Andrzejewski, their two children ages 2 and 4, another couple and their three young kids were tubing on Spring Lake Sunday when the boat began to smoke.

“Wasn’t so worried until I had wife and kids yelling at me in the background, saying, ‘You have to get off the boat, it’s going to blow,'” Brad Andrzejewski recalled.

He emptied a couple of fire extinguishers into the fire, but the flames just kept coming.

The three older kids were on the tube. The 2- and 4-year-olds were in the boat. Still 75 yards from shore, the adults had to make a decision.

“I jumped off and threw both the kids on the tube and just told them kick,” Jen Andrzejewski said. “Everyone had life jackets on so we could immediately act. I tossed them both overboard. My son Blaine did not want to go.”

“It’s always been a rule since I was a kid. My dad always enforced it. I enforce it with my kids and any guests that come ’cause anything can happen,” she continued.

It’s not just a good idea — it’s the law. Kids under 6 must wear their life vest at all times.

“Just the chaos, the stress, you’re trying to get a jacket on the kid now and they’re maybe fighting you,” Ottawa County Sheriff’s Marine Division Sgt. Cal Keuning said. “[When] the jacket’s on already, they went in the water, they start to float.”

“You never think it’s going to happen, but I’m very happy that we knew how to find a fire extinguisher and life jackets, everything we needed on the boat,” Brad Andrzejewski said.

—–Online:Michigan DNR on life jack rulesMichigan DNR on boating

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