Rescue teams end search for teen who drowned in Muskegon River

Rescue teams search the Muskegon River after a 15-year-old boy fell through ice in Sylvan Township Thursday. (Courtesy photo)

SYLVAN TWP. — Due to bad weather and swift river currents, rescue teams on Friday called off the search for the 15-year-old boy who fell through ice on the Muskegon River until conditions improve.

Crews from throughout the state searched for the body of Dylan Shaw, of Evart, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday, Osceola County Sheriff Justin Halladay said, but were unable to find him.

“The sheriff’s office and all the emergency personnel offer their condolences to the family. When you work a situation like this, it’s very personal to you. We’re a small community. It’s more than just a simple call,” Halladay said. “That’s why it’s even more hard.”

The sheriff previously said Shaw, along with two other boys, ages 14 to 16, was walking on ice at the 50th Avenue bridge, just south of River Road, when they fell in the water around 5:14 p.m. The two other boys made it out and are healthy.

Due to the nature of the river, with its rapid currents and inconsistent depths, Halladay said, the thickness of the ice the boys fell through is not known.

Halladay advised the public not to walk on the Muskegon River at any time.

“Ice is very dangerous. I don’t think the ice on our river is ever safe. Where the boys fell in, the ice was paper thin, but two feet away from that, the ice is 18 inches thick. A person could go out on the ice and drill a hole and think it’s safe, but in reality, you take another step, and there isn’t any ice at all,” he said.

Halladay said units from the sheriff’s office, Michigan State Police Dive and Water Recovery Team, Osceola County EMS, Evart Fire and Rescue, and other crew from Osceola, Mecosta and Clare counties, assisted in the search. They began on Thursday and continued to midnight Friday, when they stopped due to rapid currents and bad weather.

They started searching again Friday morning, Halladay said, by drilling holes into the ice on top of the river about 30 feet across from the hole the boys fell in. Crews then used sonar in each hole in an attempt to find Shaw’s body, but were unable to do so. By the end of the day Friday, Halladay said, river conditions and weather again made the search ineffective and impossible.

“It was very impressive, sitting there, watching everyone working together. You have individuals, some of them, just met, and they come together. It shows that they’re professionals,” Halladay said. “No one asked questions or debated … We explored every option we could, and everyone was frustrated by the weather during the process. But we all said, we’re going to work through it.”

Halladay expressed appreciation toward the agencies who worked on the recovery effort, as well as businesses and personnel who donated time and resources toward the search.

“It was quite a coming-together. It’s unfortunate that it takes an event like this to show that, but it does show this community is close-knit,” Halladay said.


Posted by Tim Rath

Tim is the Pioneer's associate editor. He also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Veterans pages. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at

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