The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

April 18, 2014

Woman, teenager found dead in Lake Erie; 2 missing

TOLEDO — The bodies of two of four missing boaters were recovered in western Lake Erie on Thursday, a day after the group left for an afternoon of fishing and sent pictures to relatives.

Searchers found a partially submerged boat on a reef near the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant and later spotted the bodies of a teenage girl and a woman, authorities said.

Both of the victims were wearing life jackets. They were identified as Amy Santus, 33, of Perrysburg, near Toledo, and Paige Widmer, 16, the Ottawa County sheriff’s office said. A hometown for Widmer was not available.

Santus and Widmer had been on the boat with two men, who also were reported missing.

County Sheriff Steve Levorchick said the boaters had contacted relatives on Wednesday afternoon.

“They did send pictures back to family members of themselves fishing,” he said.

U.S. Coast Guard boats and helicopters along with other rescue crews began searching the lake about 2 a.m. Thursday after receiving a call about the group. The boaters were supposed to return from their fishing trip early Wednesday evening.

The average water temperature within the search area was about 35 to 40 degrees, the Coast Guard said. How long people can survive in water that cold depends on their weight, gender and what they were wearing.

Coast Guard crews would continue to search for the men even though the survival window was about eight hours in those conditions, spokesman Lt. Davey Connor said.

Authorities narrowed the search to an area about 30 miles east of Toledo after finding the 21-foot-long boat Thursday morning.

The boaters’ truck and boat trailer were found at a marina where they headed out on the lake.

 

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