SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — U.S. Coast Guard vessels unsuccessfully searched the waters off Saybrook Township for two hours Monday night after a citizen called authorities about a body in Lake Erie — potentially in connection to a recovery mission for a pair of boaters who went missing earlier this month.
The Coast Guard got on scene at about 10 p.m. Monday night, according to Station Fairport personnel. All they found after two hours was a tire, said Scott Sjostorm of Station Fairport.
Two boaters, 38-year-old Cory Althar and 19-year-old Jimmy Wells, went missing May 18, failing to return from a fishing trip at Geneva State Park. An overturned boat was spotted by a helicopter at 2 a.m. on May 19, about three miles from shore.
Weather made searching difficult in the initial days after the men were reported missing, and the rescue operation has officially become a search to recover their bodies, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“It is now officially a recovery operation. We are continuing the operation as weather permits,” Eric Heis, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said. “There have been some false alarms, but we have not found anything yet.”
The boaters’ families were notified when the rescue operation officially became a recovery operation, he said.
“We’ve been investigating various reports of potential sightings in the lake. They’ve all been negative at this point,” Geneva Fire Chief Dale Arkenburg said.
Heis stressed the importance of boater safety.
“ODNR suggests that everybody wear a life jacket, even though it’s not required, when they’re boating,” he said.
Area fire departments have been working together on the search, Arkenburg said.
“We hope ... that we can help bring some closure to this event,” he said.