Team Launches Rescue Boat

November 24, 2003
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HOLLAND — The Southwest Ottawa Dive Team will join a new benefactor, Lighthouse Insurance Group, along with Congressman Peter Hoekstra, Rep. Bill Huizenga, Sen. Wayne Kuipers and Holland Mayor Al McGeehan at 2 p.m. today to launch a new water rescue craft at Dutton Park in Holland Township.

The specially engineered water rescue boat, donated to the dive team by Lighthouse Insurance, will give the team access to more waterways during all seasons and provide safer working conditions during rescue and recovery efforts in waters that include Lake Michigan near Holland State Park, Tunnel and Kirk parks, Lake Macatawa, Pigeon Lake and more than 100 ponds, rivers and streams.

This year in the waters of Southwest Ottawa County there have been six water-related emergencies that have required the aid of a group known as the Southwest Ottawa Dive Team, which consists of 20 area residents of various ages who help in the recovery of missing persons and near-drowning victims. For years, the team has worked without any official financial support or equipment.

“As volunteers, we are not only grateful for the boat as a lifesaving tool, but we also appreciate the role it will play in our own safety,” said team member Scott Troeger.

The dive team is directed by five community fire departments and assists the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and Dive Team.

“Lighthouse Group employees see the aftermath of water tragedies. We see the agony suffered by parents and spouses when a drowning victim remains missing. The dive team combats that agony with action, bringing victims home,” said Tom Helmstetter, a partner with Lighthouse Insurance. “Lighthouse donated this boat and trailer because we were moved by the dive team’s commitment and compassion, and knowledge of the need for closure experienced by families and friends.”

The Port Sheldon Fire Department donated space and resources to house the boat and support the mission of the team. Hansen Collision and Manpower Inc. donated special marine paint and reflective identification markings, respectively.    

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