New airboat fulfills promise to save lives - WNEM TV 5

New airboat fulfills promise to save lives

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Airboat. Source: Tuscola Co. Sheriff's Dept. Airboat. Source: Tuscola Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Mike Southworth lost his brother Kerry 17 years ago. He died when he fell through the ice while fishing on the Saginaw Bay.

"It was very hard. He died at a young age," Southworth said.

That's why his family was here to honor the dedication of a new airboat: the Sheriffs' Endeavor.

It’s a symbol of the effort both the Huron County, and Tuscola County sheriff offices put in to make this new emergency craft a reality.

All in an effort to save lives on the water.

"From the start that was the promise. To help in situations like that," Southworth said.

Law enforcement officials said this new tool will make a big difference.

Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson calls the new boat an instant upgrade over the old airboat that was built in Florida.

"This is just going to make it that much safer and that much easier," Hanson said.

The new boat has a heated cabin, a crane that can lift 600 pounds, and it has an icebreaker. It's also faster, equipped with a GM engine that has 200 more horsepower.

"You can see the difference in the two boats there. It's a major improvement," Hanson said.

Hanson said the boat came at a cost of $154,000, paid for by money raised through a collaboration of many different departments including Tuscola County.

"It's very gratifying to know that we put this thing together. You know it's a good project for public safety," said Tuscola County Sheriff Leland Teschendorf.

The boat will be used wherever it's needed throughout Mid-Michigan.

Southworth said his family was instrumental in getting the first airboat purchased back in 2000. He says the pain of that day in February 1999 will never go away.

"I don't go out anymore since then," Southworth said.

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