Muskegon River

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National Weather Service

The early February thaw has melted away dangerously icy roads, but it’s also raising river levels across West Michigan. Sixteen inches of melting snow melting in a short amount of time has to go somewhere.

The National Weather Service tells us we’ve experienced similar mid-winter melts before. The ground is frozen, blanketed with a foot or more of snow. And then, prolonged winds out of the south usher temperatures in the 40s and 50s.

More than 3,200 beverage containers, about 1,500 pounds of lumber, 17 pairs of sunglasses and a folding bed have been pulled from a western Michigan river.

The Muskegon Chronicle reports Monday that volunteers in the Fifth Annual Muskegon River Cleanup also removed 400 pounds of scrap metal, seven tires, 74 shoes, four inflatable rafts and two cell phones from the waterway.

About 300 people helped remove trash Saturday from the river, northwest of Grand Rapids. Some volunteers were on the river in kayaks, canoes and inflatable tubes.

Police car lights
Wikimedia | Matty Ring | CC BY 2.0 /

A western Michigan sheriff's department says a 26-year-old man died while tubing on the Muskegon River.

The Grand Rapids Press reports the Newaygo County Sheriff's Office says Kevin Tejchma of Fruitport was pronounced dead at the scene about 3:10 p.m. Saturday at a portion of the river in Bridgeton Township, 30 miles north of Grand Rapids.

Friends found the 26-year-old man under the water and brought him to shore with the assistance of police officers. 

The Newaygo County Sheriff's Office is investigating whether alcohol was involved.

Larry Pieniazek

Authorities say a boater has apparently drowned and a fisherman has died along separate stretches of the Muskegon River in western Michigan over the weekend.

The Mecosta County sheriff's department says 47-year-old Lee Cooley of Big Rapids was boating Sunday near Stanwood with his 21-year-old daughter when they hit a large sunken log and were thrown from the boat. Cooley was killed in the accident and his daughter was taken to a hospital for treatment.