Man, 71, dies after falling off boat into Kalamazoo Lake

Saugatuck water rescue

SAUGATUCK, MICH. - A 71-year-old man is dead after a boating accident on Kalamazoo Lake.

Emergency crews were called to the Sergeant Marina in downtown Saugatuck just after noon, Thursday, June 1 on reports of a man who fell into the water from his boat. 

The boat was docked at the time of the incident. 

Police believe it was a simple slip that lead to the man, 71-year-old John DeBoer, of Kalamazoo, falling into the lake.  

Dock worker Nicholas Sheldrake was on of the first of several bystanders to jump into the lake.

"We had four or five people in the water and nothing," said Sheldrake. 

He says a woman who was also on the boat directed others where to search under the water, but those efforts were unsuccessful.

"The water is extremely murky and so it did take some time to locate him," said Detective Martin Mendell, Allegan County Sheriff's Department.

Although once divers arrived, they found DeBoer within 14 minutes, he had been under the water for nearly one hour previously, according to authorities. 

"We tried and it just wasn't enough and we all feel terrible today," said Sheldrake.

DeBoer was found in 12 feet of water just before 1 p.m. in murky, 69 degree water. He was taken to Holland Hospital by ambulance.

Holland Hospital confirmed he died just before 2 p.m.

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