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Jet skier "grateful" after being caught in the middle of South Haven pier shooting

Jet skier "grateful" after being caught in the middle of South Haven pier shooting
Posted at 9:45 PM, Aug 21, 2021

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — People returned to South Beach in South Haven on Saturday the day after a gunman killed a man and seriously injured a woman.

One of those people trying to return to normal was James Graham.

“You got to get back in the saddle,” Graham said.

Graham did what he does each weekend and took his jet ski out on Lake Michigan.

“You hit those waves just right, you get air borne, and it’s just a blast,” Graham said.

On Friday, Graham was on his jet ski when the 19-year-old shooter began firing at random.

“I saw people running and I was moving so fast, I thought, ‘Well that’s kind of strange’,” Graham said. “All of a sudden [I] heard the gunshot and then it was like, ‘Okay, I know why everyone is running now’.”

Video obtained by FOX17 shows Graham riding parallel to South Pier when he notices the gunman and makes a sharp right turn and speeds off.

Graham believes the shooter fired at him at least three times, with one of those bullets lodging into the front of his jet ski.

A former part-time police officer and politician in Portage, Graham says he tried to remain calm and help people in need, like a mother and child hiding on North Pier.

He says only after the incident, while putting away his jet ski, did he realize how different things could be for him.

“I noticed the damage in front of it and it really hit home that he had actually hit about three feet away from me,” Graham said. “That got me a little bit shook up when I saw that.”

Graham says he feels a mixture of relief and hurt, but hopes the community can move forward from the incident.

“Go to the beach and enjoy yourself,” Graham said. “Life is short and you just can’t worry about these sorts of things, but be careful. I’m just grateful there weren’t more people there and more people hurt. I feel awful for the people that did get hurt.”

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