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Published: Friday, 7/11/2014

Cause undetermined in boating crash

Paige Widmer Paige Widmer

OAK HARBOR, Ohio — Investigators say they were unable to determine the cause of an April boating incident that claimed the lives of four people on Lake Erie, according to a final report issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Paige Widmer Paige Widmer

“Due to the fact that everyone on board died and there were no witnesses to the accident, the circumstances surrounding this accident are unknown,” reads the ODNR watercraft incident casualty report.

Amy Santus. Amy Santus.

The report was completed mid-June and reviewed earlier this month by a regional manager from the ODNR’s Division of Watercraft.

The bodies of Amy Santus, 33, of Perrysburg Township and Paige Widmer, 16, of Pelion, S.C., were found in the lake the day after the April 16 incident. Those of Bryan Huff, 32, of of Rossford and Andrew Rose, 33, of Maumee were found in May.

Ms. Widmer was the niece of Ms. Santus and was visiting family in the area during her spring break.

RELATED CONTENT: Click here to read the full report.

The men were not wearing life jackets. Ms. Santus and Ms. Widmer were both wearing life jackets, although Ms. Widmer’s was not zipped, the report indicates. The cause of death was drowning for all four victims, according to rulings from the Ottawa County Coroner’s Office.

Alcohol was not a factor in the incident, the report said. There was no trauma on any of the bodies and minimal damage to the boat. Two stern motors were destroyed, and the boat sustained other minor cracks and damages to hardware, the report indicates.

The report states that the boat motor’s black box was disabled, and that two global-positioning system devices were on the boat. The report states that the first GPS was inoperable, but that the second device turned on when checked, and from that investigators were able to determine that the boat had been traveling west, but then took a 90-degree turn south for 24 feet. The boat was found about ¾ miles west of this last position, investigators reported.

ODNR officials were not available to elaborate on the report.

The boat was found partially submerged in the lake, near Locust Point, the next morning. The passengers made their last contact from the boat at 6:35 p.m. that evening, the report said.

Toledo attorney Chad Tuschman, who is representing Ms. Widmer’s family, declined to comment until he had reviewed the full report.

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