Evart Man Dies After Jump Into Muskegon River; Family Mourns His Death

"I lost my best friend. My dad.”

“In a matter of minutes, he was pretty much gone."

The words of two daughters and the niece of a man who was swept away in the Muskegon River speak for the rest of his family.

They are remembering him after he jumped from a bridge and drowned.

Brice Crawford’s family says he was jumping into the Muskegon River near Evart, having fun, when he hurt himself in shallow water.

They saw he had been drinking at the time but don’t know if he was intoxicated.

9&10’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Charles Lupo met Brice’s family and spoke with those who watch the river closely.

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Brice’s family remembers him for his love of being on the Muskegon River.

That same river took him and they say it’s tearing them up.

“He was strong and he was swimming and he couldn’t get out of that current,” says Angelica Crawford, Brice’s niece.

Bystanders tried to help a struggling father and uncle, drowning in the river he loved.

“The river took him,” Angelica says. “There was nothing really that anybody could do to help him."

Daughters Kayliecia Gilleran and Brooke Crawford, and niece Angelica remember Brice Crawford as an avid fisherman and devoted husband.

“That is one huge thing about him is that he loves his momma,” Angelica says.

“He was a very funny guy. Definitely loved people,” Kayliecia says. “Very kind-hearted person who would do anything for anyone."

It’s not the surface of the river that is the most dangerous, according to Gary Fitch, co-founder of the Big Rapids Area Muskegon River Water Safety Project.

He says it’s what is underneath.

“It is calm on the top but underneath it is a torrent of current,” Fitch says.

Fitch co-founded the initiative after witnessing the river’s power.

“When we lost Areilla and Shelila Simmons, one of our public safety divers was down here in one of the eddies, diving, and it took him right to the bottom and held him there. It took several fire fighters to pull him on his tether off of the bottom of the river,” Fitch says, remembering when two kids drowned in 2006.

He says it’s a power to be respected, but still unpredictable.

“Enjoy the Muskegon but respect the power,” Fitch says.

“If Brice could go, anybody could go and to stay where there is safety,” Angelica says. “Wear life jackets. Do what you need to do to be safe."

Gary says he is pushing for more signs along the river.

Donations to help with Brice’s funeral can be given to the Corey Funeral Home in Evart.

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