LANSING, MI – As part of the Muskegon County Police Memorial Service Wednesday, May 18, 2016, a Department of Natural Resources’ SAFE (Secure All-around Flotation Equipped) boat will be dedicated to fallen Game, Fish and Forestry Deputy Warden Julius Salomonson who died in 1908. Michigan wardens were counterparts to today’s conservation officers.
The memorial service begins at 6:30 p.m. in front of “The Protectors” statue at the Muskegon County Hall of Justice located at 990 Terrace St. in Muskegon. The public is encouraged to attend.
“Deputy Warden Salomonson was committed to protecting Michigan’s natural resources and its citizens,” said Lt. Gerald Thayer of the DNR. “It’s a privilege to honor his memory by dedicating our SAFE boat to a man who lost his life while serving this state.”
The deputy warden, his brother Martin Salomonson and Deputy Sheriff J. C. Hazeltine died Nov. 15, 1908, on White Lake in Muskegon County while trying to apprehend violators illegally netting fish.
The two brothers found illegal nets Nov. 14, 1908, near the mouth of a channel leading to Lake Michigan and secured the assistance of Sheriff Deputy Hazeltine. Around midnight, the three men left their horses and lantern along the edge of White Lake. In a small flat-bottom boat, they set out to apprehend the violators.
The men never returned. A search party was formed the next day to scour the area. Their bodies were found 600 feet from shore in approximately 7 feet of water. The county coroner’s inquisition stated the men had drowned in an unknown and mysterious manner. Deputy Warden Salomonson left behind a wife and young daughter.
Questions arose as to whether the men had met some type of resistance and were overpowered. It was well known that certain violators had made serious threats against officers if they did not cease their efforts to break up the illegal netting activity and leave them alone. However, after an investigation by Deputy State Game Wardens Tom J. G. Bolt of Moorland and C. K. Hoyt of Grand Haven and Deputy Sheriff Dan James, the deaths were declared accidental drownings. No evidence of violence against the three men was ever found.
The 25-foot SAFE boat, owned and operated by the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division, is used by Michigan conservation officers for fishing and marine safety patrols and checks, commercial fishing checks, homeland security and border patrols, boating while under the influence patrols, search and rescue operations and assisting other agencies with assorted special details. Its home port is Muskegon.
“The boat is very versatile and all-weather capable, which allows us to stay on the water for longer periods of time,” said Thayer. “The features of this boat are a tremendous asset when conducting search and rescue missions as well as other various missions in cold weather.”
The boat was purchased in 2010 through federal Port Security Grant Program funding. It was manufactured by SAFE Boats International in the state of Washington. Founded in 1997, SAFE Boats International designs and builds vessels that help keep military, law enforcement and fire professionals safe as they carry out their duties, protect citizens and work to save lives.
The DNR owns and operates seven SAFE boats stationed at various Great Lakes ports throughout the state.