Pelion teen visiting family in Ohio dies in boating accident

Published: Apr. 18, 2014 at 2:39 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2014 at 7:43 PM EDT
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Paige Widmer (Source: Facebook)
Paige Widmer (Source: Facebook)
A sign outside a Pelion grocery store. (Source: Jack Kuenzie)
A sign outside a Pelion grocery store. (Source: Jack Kuenzie)
(Source: WTOL)
(Source: WTOL)

PELION, SC (WIS) - Across the small town of Pelion, the news is sinking in.

"She's a really good person just to know," said Maddison Aaron. "Like, she impacted so many people. Like everybody loved Paige."

Thursday morning, roughly 700 miles away, the U.S. Coast Guard found 17-year-old Paige Widmer's body in Lake Erie.

Friends say she was in Ohio visiting her father.

"She had a big heart," Aaron said. "She could make anybody laugh and anybody smile. She was just one of these people that everyone wanted to be around. She had such a wonderful personality. She could just bring out the best in everybody, really."

Aaron and her friends played volleyball with Widmer at Pelion High School where Widmer was also a great student.

Thursday afternoon, just hours before the Ottawa County Sheriff confirmed that Widmer was dead, Aaron and other students gathered at the high school to pray.

"We tried to form it as a community," Aaron said. "That way, we could handle it all together and not just individually."

Back in Ohio, deputies and Coast Guardsmen continue searching for two people believed to be in the water.

Besides Widmer, deputies say they also recovered the body of 33-year-old Amy Santus on Thursday.

Authorities said they have possession of the boat, but officers have not been able to go over it with a fine toothed comb to see if there's any damage to the hull.

It's not yet known how the others in the boat were related to Widmer, but authorities say Widmer and the other female they found Thursday were wearing life jackets.

"All of us definitely loved being around and playing with her," Aaron said. "It's definitely going to be different not having her on the team this year."

The search for the other two occupants on the boat was called off around 7 p.m.

The Coast Guard said due to the water being too cold, the mission is now for recovery and not search and rescue.

Authorities resumed the search Friday morning.

Family members continue to wait for answers. Officials say not knowing is the hardest part of the search for them.

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Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved. WTOL contributed to this report.