Coast Guard rescues boaters, suspends search for missing man on Lake Erie

One person is dead and another listed as still missing after the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the remaining member of a capsized boat on Lake Erie on Saturday. Responders were able to recover three people in distress, although one was later declared dead at a hospital.

Mid morning on Saturday, July 6, the Coast Guard picked up a MAYDAY call from a boat on Lake Erie. The Coast Guard Sector Eastern Great Lakes in Buffalo, New York determined the rough area it was coming from and crews from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit and Station Cleveland Harbor were dispatched. 

Responders searched an area of roughly 64 square miles. Almost four hours into the search, they located debris from a capsized boat. A dive team located the partially sunk ship, but no people. Eventually two responsive people, a man and a woman, were found by rescue teams. Another man was found unresponsive in the water. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. 

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It was only after those three were rescued that responders learned there was a fourth person missing. Operations continued, with search and rescue teams spending 10 hours total looking for the boaters. The Coast Guard suspended its search Saturday evening after hours of searching for the remaining man. 

“Suspending a search and rescue case is one of the most difficult decisions for us to make. Our crews — in conjunction with our Ohio state and local partners — conducted an exhaustive search for the missing individual and we are greatly appreciative of the immense effort by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the northeast Ohio community of first responders to attempt to return the individual safely to their family,” Capt. Mark Kuperman, head of Coast Guard Sector Eastern Great Lakes, said in a statement. “We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those involved in this tragic incident.”

The names of both the deceased person and the missing individual have not been released. 

In addition to the different Coast Guard stations involved, 10 local fire departments and sheriff’s offices participated in the search and rescue operation.

In a separate incident on Lake Erie on July 6, the Coast Guard responded to five people knocked off their boat by a wave. Their boat sank, but the crew, which had been fishing, were wearing life jackets at the time. The Coast Guard located them via their cell phones and a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit that briefly delivered from the search near Perry Nuclear Power Plant found them. The five boaters were found using a floating cooler to help them stay above water and together. 

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Nicholas Slayton

Contributing Editor

Nicholas Slayton is a Contributing Editor for Task & Purpose. In addition to covering breaking news, he writes about history, shipwrecks, and the military’s hunt for unidentified anomalous phenomenon (formerly known as UFOs). He currently runs the Task & Purpose West Coast Bureau from Los Angeles.