Body of one missing kayaker found in Lake Erie

Body of Viola Francis, 12, found floating 6 miles offshore; father remains missing
Jessica Cuffman
Apr 26, 2013


A private boater discovered the body of 12-year-old Viola Francis Friday morning, 20 days after she and her father went missing while kayaking.

She and her father, Jonathan Francis, 30, were last seen leaving Crystal Rock at about 5 p.m. April 6 in two kayaks they got for Christmas.

They were supposed to be heading out for a short trip to the Edison Bridge, but they never returned.

Friday morning, authorities picked up the body after the private boater called the U.S. Coast Guard. Deputies confirmed it was Viola, based on a description of what she'd been wearing when she went missing, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

Sheriff's deputies have notified family members about the discovery.

Francis' girlfriend reported the pair missing at about 5 a.m. April 7, launching a search that family and friends never gave up on — even after their kayaks were found floating near the Port Clinton shoreline and when the pair was officially presumed drowned.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, local fire departments, family and friends and even a local fisherman had pitched in in recent weeks to try to find the bodies.

Viola's mother, Ruth Brown, and her fiance, Timothy Snyder Jr., have established a fund at Fifth Third Bank to cover her funeral expenses.

Donations may be made in the Viola Francis Memorial Fund.



So sad rest in peace Viola!


A mother should never have to bury her child. My heart goes out to Viola's family.

Azure Ray

Wow - I was really rooting for the "escaping town" scenario.

God bless Viola and her dad. Hopefully her love of the outdoors will carry on with her spirit.


So was I. R.I.P. to both.


Me too. :'(


I think we all were ..


I was hoping for that situation as well... :(


Me too! Very sad. RIP


So sad.. I was also looking for the dad took her scenario too... Rest peacefully lil angel :(


So sad.. I was also looking for the dad took her scenario too... Rest peacefully lil angel :(


So terribly sad!


This is very sad news. Drowning is a horrible death to face at any age - let alone at age 12. Prayers go out to the family.


Can I just be the one to ask it? What was dad's girlfriend doing all night? Why didn't she call someone once it got dark and they weren't back?

sandtown born a...

Thinking the same thing


Come on people! This family has been going thru hell.
Why still ask these questions? It would not have changed things had she reported them missing any earlier. They wouldn't have survived in that cold water long at all. Let the families grieve in peace please.


They might of had a chance if they had life jackets. Instead, they had none.


shoulda coulda woulda... theres nothing that can change it now.. offer condolences or STFU... seriously.


Seriously no. They should have had life jackets on.


I did offer condolences - and prayers - but it still doesn't make sense. If my husband and child were out there, I'd be freaking out after 1 hour - not 12! Especially in the cold and dark at night time!!!




Its not up to you to make sense of it. They are gone My sons father has him when im at work and I work 8 sometimes 12 hours if they go off somewhere i dont "freak out". Hes with his dad and they could have gone to the movies over a friends to kalahari for the day or batting cages freak if i came home after working 12 hours and they were gone and didnt answer the phone or leave a note but not after 1 hour i trust my childs father. And dont worry about that..the hows and whys are not your business...worry about showing YOUR family how much you love them since obviously tomorrow is not promised instead of judging another family when you have no idea what was going on..a little 12 year old girl and her 30 year old father are now dont need anymore information then that...when do deaths like this ever make sense? But do not sit on your computer putting blame on that mother who is probably beside herself...that is so wrong and incredibly heartless RIP and please forgive these nosy people who have nothing better to do then try and blame the grieving family ...praying then judging...yeah thats how its done ...smh


I agree Life 12 hours later that seems like quite a long time i wonder if she told any family or friends and they may have told her to wait or did she tell anyone at all. I was sure hoping she was just giving the dad a head start to get further away but that's not the case such a sad day for this family.


RIP baby girl. Such sad news, was really hoping they'd be found in another state in a few years or so. Prayers for all those affected.

-miss Henderson


LIFE JACKETS!!!!!!!! they do work

Good 2 B Me

This is not the time to preach.


It's the perfect time. If not, I don't know when is.

If nothing else, to remind people the dangers of the water.

Good 2 B Me

As they are announcing this little girl has died? Very poor form and even worse taste.


Better now then wait till another person decides to do the same thing.

Eph 2 8-10

Water is too cold for survival. Hypothermia sets in within minutes. Life jackets would have been of no help. Sad.

Good 2 B Me



This is so horrible...I am praying for the family...Rest In Peace Viola!!


So very sad for the family.


RIP.... so sorry for ALL involved :(


They went out of the world together.


In all honesty though. Even with life jackets on...with the current temps of lake erie....hypothermia would set in, in just a minute or two, which basically renders you motionless in the water and your body shuts down. Horrible thing.....prayers to the family.