Family Mourns Loss Of Man Found In Grand River

Posted at 10:56 PM, Dec 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-25 22:56:48-05

A West Michigan family faces a tragedy this Christmas after the body of a loved one is found in the Grand River Tuesday afternoon.

The family of Larry Stearns, 29, of Grand Haven, had been looking for him since early Monday morning.

Stearns’ 1997 Buick Century was found near Bur Oak Landing off 90th Street in Ottawa County Tuesday by a canonist.

Family tells FOX 17 that Stearns sent a text home around 4:00 Monday afternoon as he was heading home from work, saying he’d be back in an hour.

Co-workers say he went to the Grand River to check trap lines he had laid down earlier in the year.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department says it appears Stearns’ car was driven down the boat launch at Bur Oak Landing and into the water.

Lloyd Stearns says his family is devastated by the loss of his grandson.

“Not the way you celebrate Christmas,” he says.

Lloyd says Larry was married with three children – one from a previous marriage, a stepchild, and a three-year-old boy with his wife, Nikki.

Lloyd remembers Larry fondly.

“Hard worker. He was an idea guy,” he says. “Eager to learn.”

“Things were just going great in his life.”

It took rescue crews more than two hours to get the car out of the water because of river conditions – the same conditions that probably put the car where it was.”

“The rescuers were fighting an immense current and the very cold water was numbing them,” Brian Buter of the  Ottawa Co. Sheriff’s Department says. “That current brought the car down about 300 feet before it settled in some sediment here at the bottom of the river.”

Now the Stearns family goes into a new year with the heaviest of hearts.

“We start preparing for the future,” Lloyd says, “without Larry.”

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department has launched an investigation into the incident.