Woman drowns near Cedar Point

SANDUSKY Ryan's Grill will be quiet this morning. Heartbreakingly quiet.
Sarah Weber
May 24, 2010

 

SANDUSKY

Ryan’s Grill will be quiet this morning.

Heartbreakingly quiet.

Sue Vastag will not burst through the door at 5:30 a.m. yelling “I’m here!” at the top of her lungs.

The 46-year-old Sandusky woman died Wednesday night after falling off a boat traveling from Huron to Sandusky, said John Wisse, Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokesman.

ODNR is investigating the incident. An autopsy will be performed today by the Lucas County coroner, Wisse said.

Vastag was unconscious when she waspulled from the water off the tip of Cedar Pointat 10:10 p.m., according to the U.S. CoastGuard Station at Marblehead. It was unclear how long she was in the water.

No one on the 54-foot cigarette-stylepowerboat saw her go overboard, Wisse said.He said people aboard the boat radioed the Coast Guard at 9:54 p.m. when they noticed Vastag was missing. He did not haveinformation on who owned the boat.

Coast Guard boats and a vessel from Lake Erie Towing trolled the area until they found Vastag floating in the water without a life jacket.

Coast Guard personnel tried to resuscitate Vastag and took her to their Marblehead base, where an ambulance was waiting.

Vastag was taken to Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton, where she was pronounced dead.

Staff at Ryan’s Grill, Buffet and Bakery,where Vastag was a server, were shocked by the news.

Vastag had worked at the restaurant since it opened six years ago, and she had many friends there, manager Sarah Markus said.

“Everybody loved her,” Markus said.

Cathy Fultz, a server who worked with Vastag, succumbed to tears as she remembered her friend. A nearby coworker broke down as Fultz spoke.

“She was always happy. She always joked,” Fultz said, wiping her eyes. “I’m really going to miss her.”

Markus said Vastag worked the early shift, from 5:30 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m., and was usually the only worker bright-eyed and cheerful at the break of dawn. She would start every day making her co-workers laugh with her boisterous greeting.

“It’s just not going to be the same without her,” Markus said.

Supervisor Amber Burdue said the 112-member staff at Ryan’s is like a big family, and Vastag was loved like a family member. Servers and cooks on the lunch shift Thursday went about their work somberly, and some staff members who were not scheduled came in anyway to grieve with friends.

Vastag had a reputation for forging close relationships with regular customers and would often have a full section while other servers waited for their tables to fill up. Burdue said Vastag would take the time to do extra favors for her favorites.

“She would go back and cut fresh French fries for her special customers,” Burdue said.

At one point Vastag was fired for giving food away, Markus said, but she was given her job back when it was revealed to be a misunderstanding. Before it was resolved, 30 of Vastag’s regular customers flooded the restaurant’s entryway and demanded Vastag be rehired.

“Her regulars are really going to miss her,” Markus said.

Burdue said Vastag was scheduled to be off work Thursday, but she would have worked Friday morning.

“That’s why tomorrow will be rough on me,” Burdue said. “She was always here on Fridays.”

“We don’t know what we are going to do for the funeral,” Markus said.

She said almost the whole staff will want to attend the service.

Right now, she said, everyone was just struggling to understand what happened.

Wisse said investigators will look into alcohol use in connection with the incident.

“When we are looking at a nighttime accident, that is a standard part of any investigation,” he said.

Wisse said it was too early to know if charges would be filed.

“We usually have far more questions than answers in these situations,” he said.