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Saugatuck to study river railings after tragedy

Saugatuck to study river railings after tragedy


By Jim Hayden


Saugatuck city will discuss possibly putting up railings along some of its downtown waterfront after a second person in five years drowned in the Kalamazoo River.

The body of Justin Michael Brown, 39, from the Grand Rapids area was recovered Monday in the river (see related story on Page 1). He was reported missing Oct. 13 after last being seen at Coral Gables, 220 Water St. A video later showed him on the boardwalk near the water.

Allegan County Sheriff’s Office deputies, detectives and dive team, Saugatuck Township Fire District members and the Great Lakes Drone Co. searched the river for several days before finding Brown’s body.

In 2013, the body of Jeffrey Woodruff, 25, of Pinconning, was found in the river. He was last seen in a downtown bar and grill about a block from the river.

Both men could have accidentally fallen into the river.

A family member of Woodruff contacted Mayor Ken Trester after Brown’s disappearance, saying the city should look into some type of barrier along the waterfront so people do not fall into the water.

“I’d like to see us talk about something like that,” said Trester Monday.

The riverside walk stretching from Wicks Park to Coghlin Park — about six city blocks — has no barrier that could keep people from slipping into the water. The boardwalk that passes by Coral Gables and other businesses also offers access to private docks.