Going under water with the Calhoun County dive team

Posted at 3:44 PM, Jun 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-27 19:14:03-04

CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. -- In just the past week, four people have drowned in West Michigan lakes and rivers. It is a sad reminder of how dangerous the waters can be. The danger extends to the search and rescue crews who often brave the dangerous conditions.

Many rivers and lakes around West Michigan are murky and muddy. One step into the silty river bottom and you sink down about half a foot. If you were a criminal, you might think it would be a good place to throw evidence...think again.

The Calhoun County dive team tells me that they've recovered everything from guns to knives to ATM safes from the water during police chases.  The dive team took FOX 17 Reporter Tracy Hinson through some drills, finding planted knives with a metal detector and a replica hand gun just by searching the bottom.

Calhoun County Dive Team Supervisor Jason Farmer says locating evidence is just one part of their job. The other part is more difficult.

“We do recoveries," says Farmer.  "We’re typically not called out for rescues. We go out to find evidence, or in certain cases, when somebody drowns, someone has to go pick that person up. That’s what we get called out to do.”

Farmer says recovery is an important part of dive team work.  “Without having people like us, if you had a loved one, someone that fell off a boat, nobody would be able to go get them.”

It's an emotional and dangerous job, all done by volunteers in Calhoun County. Team members must first be SCUBA certified, then go through special training and be deputized, before they can respond to calls.