Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Police & Fire

Officials call off water search for 2 kayakers in Sandusky Bay

Pair identified as father, daughter from Sandusky


Authorities are searching for kayakers Viola Francis, 12, left, and her father Jonathan, right, after Mr. Francis' girlfriend reported them missing.


SANDUSKY -- The Ottawa County Sheriff's department has called off the water search for two missing kayakers in Sandusky Bay, according a dispatcher.

Authorities were searching Sandusky Bay for a missing father and his daughter. No bodies have been found.

Erie County and U.S. Coast Guard officials are still searching. 

The kayakers are identified as 30-year-old Jonathan Francis, of Sandusky, and his 12-year-old daughter Viola Francis, according to Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

Mr. Francis was reported to be wearing navy blue sweatpants and a hoodie sweatshirt and his daughter was reported to be wearing pink boots, dark leggings and a dark coat, according to a news release from the Coast Guard.

Sheriff Sigsworth told The Blade that the two kayaks were recovered at about 9:30 a.m. They were found abandoned and floating in the water on the north shore of Sandusky Bay in Ottawa County almost directly across the bay from Crystal Rock. The pair started near Crystal Rock and planned to paddle to the Edison Bridge and back, Sheriff Sigsworth said.

Mr. Francis' girlfriend, Sheila McClain, reported the kayakers missing at 5:20 a.m.

“They were only only going to be gone a few hours and they didn’t come back,” she said. “I was kind of waiting, thinking they had gotten hung up somewhere, but then it got to be too late. I just couldn’t want anymore, it was driving me nuts, I had to call the police.”

Ms. McClain said the weather was nice when the two departed on the kayaks.

“It was a little windy but there weren’t any whitecaps on the bay,” she said.

The two normally wear lifejackets, but since it was going to be just a quick trip, they didn’t take them, she said.

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