Officials halt search for 2 missing in Lake Erie - - Columbia, South Carolina

Officials halt search for 2 missing in Lake Erie

The group's truck and boat trailer were found at the Locust Point boat ramp. The group's truck and boat trailer were found at the Locust Point boat ramp.
Paige Widmer of Pelion, SC. (Source: Facebook) Paige Widmer of Pelion, SC. (Source: Facebook)

OAK HARBOR, OH (Toledo News Now) Officials have called off the search for 2 missing boaters after 2 victims were found Thursday.

The group went missing sometime late Wednesday and their boat was found capsized and empty Thursday morning in Lake Erie.

Chad German with the Division of Watercraft in Toledo, Ohio said Friday afternoon that the boat has now been inspected but investigators looking for a cause there didn't find one.

They say no damage was found on the boat and that it was structurally sound. All of the emergency instruments required by law were on the boat as well.

When asked if weather could have been a factor in the incident, considering the choppy waves that day, officials said that it's always a possibility, but whatever happened to the boat -- happened very quickly. They also say no other parties out fishing that day experienced conditions that were out of the ordinary.

German says the sinking is unexplained. German says the next step to look at the hard drive in the GPS unit to determine if the boat made any erratic maneuvers that could have contributed to it taking on water and eventually sinking.

Ottawa County Sheriff Steven Levorchick said the two victims found so far were 33-year-old Amy Santus and 17-year-old Paige Widmer of Pelion, SC.

The two missing men have been identified as 32-year-old Bryan Huff, of Rossford, Ohio and 34-year-old Andrew Rose, of Maumee, Ohio.

Ottawa County Coroner Dr. Dan Cadigan says the cause of death for both women was drowning. 

Cadigan says there was no evidence of hypothermia. 

Both women were wearing foul weather suits with jackets, pants and life vests, Cadigan said.

The coroner's office could not determine a time of death because of the cold water temperature, but there were no signs of injury or trauma on either body.

Ottawa County Sheriff Steven Levorchick said Friday would be the last day they spend actively searching for the boaters unless there are new developments. 

"We always fear the worst, hope for the best though," Levorchick said. "The only real saving grace for us and for myself is the fact that knowing the assets that we have available to us, and knowing the rescue personnel work hard here on our waterways, is really the only comfort that we have is we have some of the best. We want to do whatever we can. But at some point, we also have to be realists and understand that we can't be out there all the time."

The United States Coast Guard found the first body near Toussaint Reef around 10 a.m. Thursday, approximately 2 miles off the coast.

Authorities said millions of boaters go out on Lake Erie each year.

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