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Posted on Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

Police: Pittsfield Township man drowned in Huron River

By Sven Gustafson

A 21 year-old Pittsfield Township man is believed to have drowned after jumping off a railroad trestle into the Huron River near Ypsilanti with several friends early Sunday, police said.

"It's a drowning at this point," Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office spokesman Derrick Jackson said. "The family has been notified. We are actively investigating as with any death investigation."

Jackson did not release the man's name, citing a 24-hour grace period after notifying his family members.

Police divers were still on the scene around noon Sunday searching for the man's body.

The incident took place shortly before 4:52 a.m. at the railroad trestle east of Superior Road.

"My initial description was that there were six young adults," Ypsilanti Fire Capt. Scott Maddison said. "They were on the railroad trestle over the Huron River there…. they all jumped into the water at the same time. They exited the water and they realized that there was one person still missing. They heard him call for help."

Maddison said one of the members of the group reportedly worked as a lifeguard and entered the water to assist the swimmer.

"We're speculating that he may have got disoriented," Maddison said. "(The lifeguard) went out to assist him, he started panicking."

The lifeguard was unable to retrieve the swimmer and, exhausted, had to swim back to the bridge and exit the water, Maddison said. The missing man's friends then dialed 911.

"At some point he yelled out for help," Jackson said. "His friends went out and tried to help him, but he went under."

The man had been in the water an estimated 20 minutes when firefighters called in members of the Sheriff's dive team, Maddison said.

View Huron River Drowning in a larger map



Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

Do we have a name yet???


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Jackson did not release the man's name, citing a 24-hour grace period after notifying his family members.

Hugh Giariola

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

I saw a Channel 4 news van there at about 6 pm Sunday evening and wondered what was happening.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

It isn't just young men who like to jump off railroad trestles around here. As a young woman, I jumped off a few. Rarely while sober. Often at night. One of the ways I realized that I was getting older and more mature is that I started to think about how dangerous my behavior was. I was lucky as are *most* people. The odds are in the railroad trestle jumpers favor and I am sure that helps fuel the "It can't happen to me" attitude young people are often known to have. I did! However, the sad reality is that some activities are more dangerous than others. Luck runs out for some people and it is a tragedy. Especially because it is young people who engage in these sorts of behaviors so then it is young people who die. Of course I urge young people to consider the dangers of their behaviors but I also know how powerful taking risks can be.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

nicely stated.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

As mentioned in an earlier post about the closing of the middle school pools, not all know how to swim. Middle school swimming is a good time to learn. I'm sure the darkness, dis-orientation, not thinking via a beer or two, etc. also contributed to this drowning. But, as many have said, this is a pretty typical activity of young men. Next time folks do this, don't pressure the non-swimmers to participate. Let them hold the cell phones, wallets, etc.

Ann English

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

It's good to learn how to swim before you get nearsighted, and that can happen before you reach the age of 13. Corrective lenses are usually inconvenient in the pool. Ruth Stivers must have had good friends and a great, caring family. She grew up in a state that isn't lake-dense like Minnesota and Michigan, and that, too, could have contributed to her 85-year life. Eighty-five years, never learned to swim, yet loved the water. Exceptional. Knew how to pick her friends, even after moving to 10,000 lake-dense Michigan. Minnesota is twice the size of Michigan, but has only 1,000 more lakes. So Michigan's more lake-dense than the Gopher State. Perhaps the arrival of the cell phone, facilitating emergency calls, has contributed to more people engaging in risky behavior.

Responsible Citizen

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

I agree that EVERYONE should know how to swim, but we don't know that he didn't know how to swim or that he was pressured to jump. It's too bad the middle school pools will be closing, but there are other ways to learn to swim, the rec department and the Y. And as the parent of a middle schooler, who took phys ed as an elective, swimming was not offered anyway this year at Slauson. It's all parents' responsibility to make sure their child knows how to swim, and if you do not know how to swim as an adult, you can take lessons then. Again, we do not know that he was a nonswimmer, though.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 12:08 a.m.

This was an hour before sunrise so I'm sure that made it all that much more difficult to find him when he did yell out. I do hope they find him soon so the family and everyone else can have closure.


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 11:34 p.m.

Please update this story when able. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Responsible Citizen

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

How sad.

Sven Gustafson

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

I was just told they still have not recovered the body.


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

I still can't believe this has happened. My heart aches for your family. Part of me still hopes they'll find you. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

21 is way too young. Terrible.

Boo Radley

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

I think the article should have mentioned the criminal penalties for jumping off railroad trestles and the customary fine for doing so. Some here seem to think it is a great recreational opportunity for all ...


Tue, Jul 2, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

That is a tough job Boo. I would hate to have it. THanks for your thoughts on preventing more of these sad situations.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

Kids - don't drive cars!!! It is the single most dangerous activity you can partake of.

Boo Radley

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

Many years ago, I spent several years as a member of a Sheriff's Department dive team. I am coming from the perspective of being at many such incidents as this. I have gone through the dangerous work of diving in hazardous waters, and also dealing directly with the distraught family members and friends of the victims. I apologize if I seem heartless and hard, Responsible Citizen, but you are right .... I have been hardened a lot by my experiences.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Collectively, 15 people here have said they think that, because a certain age group lacking in good judgement does things which are dangerous and illegal, they believe it's OK to just let that age group do whatever whim moves them to do. It never occurs to them, and probably never will, that the young-bad-judgement group are in the minority. If this were not so, then jumping off railroad trestles would be a sanctioned sport - or would otherwise be encouraged. Also, the Bad Judgement Supporters can always be counted on to jump in to "defend" their untenable position whenever someone like you "dares" to point out the obvious errors in such careless thinking. So you have my sympathy. :-)

Responsible Citizen

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

I agree with Walking Joe. Perhaps mentioning the penalties would have been appropriate in the article, but I think your comment would have been better addressed to the author. It makes you (Boo) look heartless and hard. No mention of thoughts for the family and the friends?


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

As a young man I did some incredibly dumb things and so did some of my friends. We knew they dangerous and probably illegal but we were young and just knew it couldn't happen to us. We look back now and think we were really lucky that nothing happened. I'm saying this Boo because young people do these things and lecturing sometimes only make it seem more adventurous.


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

Count me as "some"!!!


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

Growing up in A2, jumping off the trestles was a cheap source of entertainment for my friends and I. One action we always took, no matter if it was the middle of the day or the wee hours of the morning, was a depth check to see if there were any underwater obstructions. Please talk to your kids and urge them to take this simple step. I see kids jumping off the Argo trestle all the time.( my first jump there was on a foggy summer morning somewhere around 4:30 ) Have fun but BE CAREFUL!!!


Tue, Jul 2, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

Ahhh, the Argo trestle, (and the spillway), filled my summer days with fun and danger. We are the fortunate ones who get to have the great memories. My heart goes out to those who don't.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

Like driving cars, and riding bikes, and birthday cake...


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Strange as it may seem: whenever our child expressed a desire to do something which might turn out to be fatal - we told them not to do it because we would miss them terribly if they did not survive. "Don't take chances with your safety because we love you" proved to be an effective message - and one which many other parents find effective as well. Thank God.

Responsible Citizen

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Just to clarify, Boo Radley was a character in a book, not the man who is making the incredibly insensitive comments. How about a little compassion Mr. Radley? Yes, it's illegal, but a tragedy occurred. And I agree with the others Aboriginal, "Have fun, but be careful" implies you condone this activity. How about racing through a train crossing when the train is approaching? Does "Have fun but be careful" apply there too? All dangerous and illegal activities should be strongly discouraged by parents when children are young. There's a BIG difference between buying something at a yard sale and not paying the sales tax and putting your life (and others) at risk. And "rules are for squares" is an incredibly irresponsible statement. How about the rule that you cannot bring a gun to school? Is that for squares?

Chip Reed

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 10:35 a.m.

Good point, Arboriginal!


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

So is speeding and rolling through four way stops. Have you ever purchased or sold something at a yard sale and neglected to pay the sales tax? We do it. Sometimes rules are for squares. Dig it? Boo Radley killed a man and was never charged.

Boo Radley

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

Jumping off railroad trestles and bridges is illegal. How about taking the simple step of not committing a crime and being careful that way.


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 7 p.m.

21-year old guys have been jumping off river-crossing railroad trestles as long they've existed. Just awfully bad luck.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

21 year old guys have .been drinking and driving for as long as cars and beer have existed. Do you encourage that? Were the ones that did not survive crashes unlucky?

Paula Gardner

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 12:25 a.m.

That's exactly what my husband said. He remembers doing it at that age. I'm just so sorry for this man's family and his friends.

joe golder

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

With all the rain we've had, this was a bad decision at any time of day!


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

I believe the marker on the map is incorrect. It marks the Superior Road Bridge. The trestle is further east, closer to where the river bends.

Cole Bertsos

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

The map has been updated, as well as the story itself.

Responsible Citizen

Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

This probably should have been addressed to the author of this article, not in the comments section. It makes you look insensitive. No thoughts for the family of this poor young man or the other jumpers, who probably are feeling incredibly guilty and will carry this with them for the rest of their lives?

Matt Cooper

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

Tragic thing to happen. It is always an extremely dangerous thing to be diving off of bridges, railroad tressels, etc. The water looks so calm and inviting on the surface, but the currents farther below can be deceivingly harsh. And that's not to mention underwater objects that you might not be able to see such as rocks, tree stumps, etc. that you can hit your head on. Prayers and condolences to the young mans family, and I hope we all take a moment to remind our children, friends and other family members to avoid dangerous activities such as this.

Jay Thomas

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

Water is deceptive; it's the current that gets you.


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

No matter how fun this may be, it's very dangerous! It's one of those things that seems so innocent but isn't...

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

this is just awful.

Jaime Magiera

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

Condolences to the family and friends

Jaime Magiera

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

"head him call for help" (sic)

Sven Gustafson

Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Oops, thanks for point that out. It's been fixed.