09-06-2018 Police and Fire Reports

Police and Fire Reports

By Annette Christie

Coloma Library victim of wire fraud

A special meeting of the Coloma Public Library Board was held on Wednesday, August 28, 2018 in reference to a property purchase that the library was involved in.

The library board had previously approved the purchase of property located at 147 North West Street. In the process of closing on the property, the library became a victim of wire fraud during the act of electronically transferring funds.

The matter was turned over to the authorities and is currently under investigation. The Library Board could not release any further information about the investigation.

The board is comprised of Harold Bragg, Judy Clark, Sue Moser, Alice Mow, Karen Nickels and David Scheuer.  At the meeting to discuss the incident the Librarian Charles Dickinson, Asst. Librarian Faith Wolbers, Coloma Township Supervisor Ken Parrigin, Coloma City Mayor Jim Polashak, and Attorney Ron Postelli were also present.

Following the discussion, the library board agreed to move forward with the acquisition of the property at 147 North West Street.

Several agencies assist with river rescue; Users of the river reminded to be safe

Several emergency services agencies assisted with multiple rescues on the Paw Paw River over the Labor Day weekend. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office reports that on September 2, 2018 at 2:37 p.m., several agencies were dispatched to the Paw Paw River in Watervliet Charter Township, north of the City of Watervliet for two missing tubers.

Members of the Watervliet Fire Department, North Berrien Fire Department, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Marine Division all launched water rescue vessels into the Paw Paw River.

During the search for the two initial missing tubers, the rescue personnel came into contact with three unrelated kayakers and tubers that needed to be rescued, after falling out of their kayaks or inner tubes.

Rescue personnel also discovered the two initial missing individuals.

During this water rescue mission, the first responders safely assisted in rescuing the following individuals from the Paw Paw River: 69-year-old male from Eau Claire; 67-year-old female from Eau Claire; 46-year-old male from Chicago, Illinois; a 14-year-old male from Kalamazoo; and a 15-year-old male from Kalamazoo.

All five rescued individuals were checked out at the scene by Pride Care Ambulance. The two juveniles, who were tubing with their parents, were safely reunited with them.

A kayak being operated by North Berrien Fire Department personnel overturned, however, thankfully the individual was safely able to exit the water on his own. Lost during this ordeal was a kayak owned by North Berrien and one being operated by one of the rescued subjects.

This was a joint rescue mission by all the responding agencies and due to the cooperation and work amongst all the first responders everyone was safely removed from the river.

Some of the rescued individuals were wearing life jackets; however, a couple were not.  The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind everyone that you should always wear a personal flotation device while enjoying the wonderful waterways of our County, especially now, due to the high waters and fast moving currents of the waterways as a result of the recent heavy rainfall.

Paddlers should always check the weather prior to heading out on any waterways. Current conditions are available through the National Weather Services.

Paddlers should always buddy up and someone staying onshore should always know the day’s plan, how many people are included, their names, time and location of departure, and the anticipated route and time for expected ending of the trip.  Be sure to let those individuals know when you safely return from the waterway.

Besides a personal safety device, paddlers should wear protective footwear and clothing that can get wet and that should be expected. Personal gear should be placed in a waterproof bag and should be secured to the boat or tube.  In addition, bring along two signaling devices, such as a whistle or a waterproof flashlight.

Labor Day fatalities decreased

The Michigan State Police announced that preliminary reports indicate 11 people lost their lives in 11 separate crashes during the 2018 Labor Day holiday weekend. During the 2017 Labor Day holiday weekend, 10 traffic crashes resulted in 15 deaths.

Restraint use was unknown in four of the fatal crashes, two fatal crashes involved alcohol and three crashes involved both pedestrians and a bicyclist. One of the fatal crashes over the weekend also involved a motorcyclist where helmet use was unknown.

“These numbers are preliminary and only reflect those fatalities reported to the MSP as of 10 a.m. Tuesday, September 4, 2018,” stated Spl/F/Lt. Jim Flegel, State Service Bureau. “Even though there was a slight decrease in fatalities over the weekend, there are still 11 families that did not get to enjoy the holiday weekend, instead they are grieving the loss of their loved one,” Flegel said.

The Michigan State Police continues to urge motorists to make safe driving decisions by not operating a motor vehicle while impaired on alcohol or drugs, avoiding distractions and risky driving behaviors and to always use proper restraints.

An accident in Van Buren County was one of the fatalities. On September 2, 2018 at 8:28 p.m., deputies were dispatched to the intersection of 28th Avenue and 44th Street in Waverly Township for a single car personal injury crash.

After arriving on scene, it was determined that the female passenger, who was entrapped in the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, was unconscious and bleeding heavily. The Bloomingdale Fire Department used the Jaws of Life to free the 20-year-old from Indiana. Due to the severity of her injuries, the female passenger was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital via AIRCARE. She later succumbed to her injuries at Bronson.

The driver, a 21-year-old male from Detroit, was driving under the influence of alcohol. The vehicle left the roadway where it then crashed into a ditch. The driver was arrested and lodged at the Van Buren County Jail for operating while intoxicated causing death.

Van Buren County deputies also responded to a single vehicle motorcycle accident on September 2. The initial investigation for the incident which occurred in the 69000 block of County Road 652 found that the cycle was being ridden by a 68-year-old male driver and 51-year-old female passenger. The driver lost control of the cycle in a curve causing it to run off the roadway and eject both riders.

Both riders sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to the hospital. The driver was not wearing a helmet, but the passenger was. It is believed that alcohol was a factor in the crash based on the initial investigation. Once the investigation is complete the report will be forwarded to the prosecutor for review.

School safety reminders

The Michigan State Police wants to remind parents to talk to their children about bus safety and remind motorists to share the road.

“To reduce the chance of transportation-related injuries, we encourage parents to teach their children about proper behavior around a bus,” said Trooper Kellie Shaffer of the Paw Paw Post.

Parents should talk to their children about the School Bus Danger Zones that extend 10 feet from the bus in all directions. When leaving the bus, children should walk 10 feet away from the bus before turning.

Children crossing in front of the bus should move forward away from the bus until they can make eye contact with the driver. They should never cross in front of the bus without the bus driver’s permission.

Additional safety tips for parents to share with their children:

Have a safe place to wait for the bus, away from the traffic and the street; do not run or play while waiting for the bus; make sure to always remain in  clear view of the bus driver and never go behind the bus; stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals the child to enter; walk to the bus stop with a buddy; mind all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard and never cross the street against a light, even if they do not see traffic coming; do not talk to strangers and tell the parents if a stranger tries to talk to them; and never leave with a stranger or get into a stranger’s vehicle.

Motorists are reminded to pay attention to school bus lights and observe the school bus stop law. When approaching a school bus with its lights activated, motorists should always prepare to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing; come to a complete stop at least 20 feet away from the bus when its overhead red lights are flashing; do not proceed until the bus resumes motion and/or the driver is signaled to do so by the bus driver; proceed with caution when the hazard warning lights, located near the headlights are flashing.


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