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Kayakers still missing

Jessica Cuffman • Apr 9, 2013 at 6:48 AM

On Sunday, the blue and green kayaks belonging to Jonathan Francis, 30, and Viola Francis, 12, washed up on the opposite side of the bay from where they launched their boats at Crystal Rock Saturday evening.

An Ottawa County man spotted the boats off the shore of his private property near Lightner Road, about the same time the U.S. Coast Guard spotted them from the air after launching their search Sunday morning.

The 12-hour hunt for the pair turned up little other evidence of Francis and his daughter's whereabouts.

Not far from the kayaks, two shoes were discovered — a pair of camouflage Crocs Francis may have been wearing, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said Monday.

Authorities fear the worst.

Witnesses said Francis and his daughter left for their trip without life jackets Saturday, and without wetsuits or other outdoor wear that may have protected them if one of their boats capsized during the trip.

Coast Guard and Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials say for kayakers and other boaters safety, there are three key factors: Personal floatation devices, protection against cold water, and having a float plan — letting someone know where you're going, when you're leaving and when you'll be back.

For more tips on paddling safety and the latest details on the search, pick up Tuesday's copy of the Register.

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