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Criminal Justice & Legal System

'Thrill seekers' in emergency situations would pay for their own rescue under new bills


People who need to be rescued after taking part in “reckless” behavior during emergencies would be fined under bills introduced in the state house this week.

Emergency responders had to rescue several people who tried to kayak down fast-moving, swollen rivers during record flooding this spring in Michigan. Officials repeatedly warned people to stay out of the waters.


There’s this video online with four guys on jet skis during the record flood of the Grand River this spring. They jump over flooded playground equipment; duck real low to fit under bridges. It looked like a lot fun, but it’s probably not the brightest idea safety-wise.

State Representative Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) says emergency responders had enough on their plate at that time.

“We want to make sure that their lives aren’t put unnecessarily in jeopardy by going to have to rescue somebody who is doing thrill-seeking behavior or acting in an extremely reckless manner,” Dillon said.

So act with “gross negligence” during a declared state of emergency and need a rescue, and you could pay for it. Under the bills, municipalities could recover the cost of rescuing thrill seekers so taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for it.

“Gross negligence is essentially defined as acting in a way where you have a reasonable expectation of doing harm to yourself or others. So it’s not the person who gets caught in a flash flood,” Dillon said.

Dillon and State Representative Rob VerHeulen (R-Walker) co-sponsored the package.

“We don’t want to discourage people from using emergency resources if they are in trouble but we also want people to make sure think twice before going out and doing something that they know has a high degree or a high potential of putting themselves in danger,” Dillon said.

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