Debris found; 2 boaters still missing

KELLEYS ISLAND U.S. Coast Guard officials won't say whether two life preservers and foam debris foun
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

KELLEYS ISLAND

U.S. Coast Guard officials won't say whether two life preservers and foam debris found Tuesday on a tugboat and barge combination are from a missing boat operated by three Wooster fishermen.

The same day the body of Cass Momchilov, 46, of Wooster was found washed up on the northeast shore of Kelleys Island, operators of the barge Cleveland Rocks informed the Coast Guard station at Lorain that they found debris.

The 505-foot barge was being pushed by a tug back to Cleveland after picking up a load of bottom rocks from the Kelleys Island quarry when the debris was discovered about 4 p.m., according to Chief Petty Officer Robert Lanier, from the U.S. Coast Guard 9th District in Cleveland.

"I don't want to speculate into the case of the barge," he said, adding that the two incidents are being considered separate incidents.

Two other fishermen from the missing boat, Christopher Crowner, 46, and Dan Crowner, 44, were not found. The search for them ended Wednesday afternoon, according to Petty Officer Matt Schofield of the Coast Guard 9th District in Cleveland.

Meanwhile, the cause of death for Momchilov was ruled a drowning, according to Dr. Brian Baxter, Erie County Coroner. Momchilov also sustained a laceration to his abdomen and a foot injury.

Tests that will reveal whether alcohol or drugs were in Momchilov's system will not be available for at least two to four weeks, Baxter said.

His time of death was logged as 5:30 p.m., when the body was discovered, but the time of injury is pending while the Coast Guard continues its investigation, Baxter said.

Lanier declined to comment on whether there was any other evidence the barge collided with a boat. The fishermen's 21-foot pleasure boat has yet to be located, he said.

Families of the three men reported them missing about 5 a.m. Tuesday after they did not return home on time after an overnight fishing trip, Lanier said.

A Coast Guard helicopter from Detroit, boats from Lorain and Marblehead Coast Guard stations, and local fire and police departments scoured 913 square miles of Lake Erie for two days before calling the search off.