Quick thinking, good planning helps avoid boating tragedy


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

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links