Newaygo County Drowning Highlights Muskegon River Dangers

A Grand Rapids man is dead after drowning in the Muskegon River.

The Newaygo County Sheriff’s Department says Dwight Coleman went underwater when he got off his tube to swim after something on Saturday.

Dive teams found his body about a mile and half from Devils Hole in Brooks Township.

Jodi Clark was on the Muskegon River Saturday afternoon and says she passed Dwight Coleman a short time before he drowned.

She says his entire group seemed fine.

“They were having fun, we talked for a little bit, we had music playing in our kayak, and they liked the music we had playing so we had chatted for a few minutes. They didn’t seem like they were doing anything out of the ordinary I would be concerned with,” said Clark.  

But a short time later dive teams were in the water looking for Coleman. It was the first dive for the Newaygo Fire Dive Rescue, started last year after another drowning close to the fire station.

We’ve found there’s a need in our community. Last year on June 25 we lost a guy 15 feet from shore in 15 feet of water. There was an opportunity for us to be in the water a little faster and we were stuck on the shore because we didn’t have the equipment to attempt a rescue,” said Deputy Chief Jason Cunningham.  

Rachel Wisner of Wisner Rents Canoes says even though the water looks calm it can quickly pull you under.

“The higher the water is, the easier it looks. It looks so much easier like ‘oh wow it’s beautiful’ that’s why there’s no rapids at all the higher it is. But what that means is basically a huge undertow current underneath it that will take you under those trees and derbies,” said Wisner.

Wisner says no matter what you use to travel the river, always have a life jacket with you. 

For more on the Newaygo Fire Dive Rescue, click here and here.

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