Van Buren County marine patrols make new department rule after recent drowning

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VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich.— As the weather heats up Van Buren County Sheriff’s Departments’ Marine Patrols are out in full force. They have four boats and jetskis split up between the north and south patrolling the waters, and encouraging people to follow the rules. A recent drowning has them enforcing rules inside and outside their department.

“We want to make sure as a marine patrol that we have everybody operating safely, whether you are a beginner boater or an expert boater. We want to make sure everybody is following the law so every summer it’s fun and there’s no accidents,” said Deputy Nathan Penning.

The marine patrols took along Fox 17’s Cassandra Arsenault for a firsthand look at their enforcement and operations. There were a few storms Sunday morning in Van Buren County, but the sun came out in the late afternoon, so did people trying to enjoy the lake. Van Buren County Sheriff’s headed out to the lakes to make sure everyone was have a safe Sunday.

Two men were pulled out from the Bankson Lake nearly two weeks ago. Deputies are trying to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again. Deputy Greg Straka and Deputy Nate Penning were making sure people had registrations, following speed limits, and making sure there was no drinking and driving. Even though it’s not a law to wear your life jacket, they were encouraging people to do so.

“We've had one drowning already like a week and a half ago or two weeks ago and that’s why we stress to wear your life jacket at all times,” said Deputy Penning.

A 17-year old high school student, and a 19-year old Western Michigan University student headed out on an inflatable boat to go fishing. Deputies say one of the boys didn't know how to swim, and may have fell into the water, and the other man trying to go after him. Neither of them were wearing their life jackets, but had them on their boat.

“It’s not the law to wear your life jacket at all times, but it's something we are trying to push,” said Penning.

The deputies are practicing what they preach after the recent drowning, they made a new rule inside their department.

“As marine deputies we want to be the example to the people on the water, so anytime we are patrolling or on the boat, we are wearing our life vests,” said Penning.

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