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Published: Tuesday, 4/10/2007

Judge throws out lawsuit in Lake Erie drownings


SANDUSKY, Ohio A judge has thrown out a wrongful death lawsuit brought by family members of four men who drowned nearly five years ago at a Lake Erie beach.

The four were trying to save a young woman who had been knocked down by 5-foot-high waves and swept out by a current at a beach in Huron.

Erie County Judge Tygh Tone called the men heroes, but he said the city of Huron could not be blamed for the deaths, according to the ruling released Monday.

The judge said a city employee had warned the men and the woman on July, 10, 2002, that the beach was closed for swimming because of dangerous conditions that day.

Winds up to 34 mph had made the water treacherous.

The beach also had no lifeguards, but visitors were allowed to sunbathe and picnic.

Jehrod Smith, 19, of Sandusky; Steve Cupec, 27, Kyle Kroetz, 29, and Matthew Smith, 21, all of Findlay, drowned at the beach, which is about 50 miles west of Cleveland.

Firefighters eventually rescued the woman they were trying to save.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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