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Family, friends keep searching

Alex Green • Apr 19, 2014 at 6:10 PM

While government search crews have suspended their efforts to find two boat-crash victims still missing in Lake Erie, family and friends continued to search the waters late into Friday.

Bryan Huff, 32, of Rossford, and Andrew Rose, 33, remain missing after their boat capsized or crashed sometime late Wednesday, authorities and family members said.

“It’s very tough,” Debbie Huff, Bryan’s mother, said late Friday. “We have a very strong group of people — friends and family and everyone — out there pulling for Bryan. We want to find him and Andy”

Debbie said her son is an experienced and responsible boater.

Authorities have located the bodies of Amy Santus, 33, of Perrysburg, and her niece, Paige Widmer, 16, of South Carolina, who were both with Huff and Rose on the ill-fated boating expedition.

Family members reported the boaters missing at about 2 a.m. Thursday, after the group failed to return from fishing out on the lake. They had launched off from Locust Point boat ramp earlier Wednesday, and their truck and boat trailer were still at the ramp when they were reported missing.

Authorities launched a massive search Thursday morning, involving the U.S. Coast Guard, Canadian Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol and the Ohio Department of Wildlife’s watercraft division.

The capsized boat was found at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, partially submerged and unoccupied about six miles north of Locust Point. One victim’s body was found about three hours later, and the other was found shortly thereafter, miles out in the lake. Santus and Widmer were both wearing life jackets, authorities said.

Ottawa County coroner Dan Cadigan said preliminary autopsies show Santus and Widmer both died of drowning, and there were no trauma injuries on the bodies to indicate a severe boat crash.

While Coast Guard crews halted their search efforts at about 9 p.m. Thursday, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office resumed search efforts Friday morning. By 4 p.m., however, the sheriff’s office called off its efforts, with no plans to continue today, a dispatcher said.

It’s unknown if the two missing men were wearing life jackets. It’s also still undetermined what caused the 21-foot Tracker boat to crash.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft is heading an investigation into the matter, Ottawa County Sheriff Stephen Levorchick said.

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