No sign of trouble found in Lake Erie in 3-hour search

Fisherman feared to have vanished

2/25/2013
BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Authorities search for a man thought to have fallen through the ice in Lake Erie near Oak Harbor.
Authorities search for a man thought to have fallen through the ice in Lake Erie near Oak Harbor.

OAK HARBOR, Ohio — The intensity of a quiet Sunday morning quickly changed with reports of a suspected missing person on Lake Erie in Ottawa County.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Ottawa County authorities were on the scene after receiving a report about 9:50 a.m. from a resident in the 8800 block of Sand Beach Road.

According to the Carroll Township Police Department, the caller said she and her son-in-law were looking out at Lake Erie, birdwatching, when they saw a man out on the ice, thought to be a fisherman.

“Some time elapsed...[they] turned around, looked again, and he was gone,” said Patrolman James Meek of the Carroll Township Police Department.

They called police, concerned that they hadn’t seen the man leave the ice.

Authorities searched for nearly three hours, ending at about 12:40 p.m. after finding no indication anyone had gone through the ice.

Andy Thompson from the Carroll Township Fire Department said crews performed a grid search, then looked for footprints on the ice.

The Marblehead Coast Guard ice rescue team and a Coast Guard helicopter from Detroit were on the scene, according to the Coast Guard office in Detroit.

Rescue workers called at 9:50 a.m. Sunday by birdwatchers in Ottawa County gave up their search about 12:40 p.m.
Rescue workers called at 9:50 a.m. Sunday by birdwatchers in Ottawa County gave up their search about 12:40 p.m.

The Ottawa County Dive Team and the Coast Guard searched in boats, and a Coast Guard helicopter searched from above.

Ballville Township, Jerusalem Township, and the Carroll Township Fire Department also responded.

“Normally, it’s when the ice is better,” Mr. Thompson said about the prevalence of ice fishers. “It’s kinda odd.”

Temperatures Sunday morning were in the upper 20s with a brisk wind.

Residents lined up to watch.

Brenda Orcelletto of Oak Harbor waited in her sport utility vehicle to stay warm.

“It’s not uncommon,” she said of people who go out on the ice. “[They] gotta have those fish.”

Harris Harbor Drive, which runs into Sand Beach Road, was lined with the cars and trucks of passers-by, waiting to find out what happened.

But once word traveled that a person was not found and the search was called off, the vehicles quickly dispersed.

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-724-6522.