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Published: Thursday, 10/22/2009

Empty boat sparks search

MARBLEHEAD, Ohio - The Coast Guard searched Wednesday for the operator of an empty aluminum fishing boat found in Lake Erie between the mainland and Middle Sister Island.

An official with the Coast Guard said the search was called off at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday after the effort turned up no results. It will be determined later if the search will be resumed.

The search began about 10:40 a.m. when the 16-foot vessel was spotted. Items in the boat, including keys in the ignition, suggested it was recently occupied, Senior Chief Greg Zerfass of the Coast Guard's Marblehead station.

Joining in the search were vessels from the Coast Guard's Marblehead and Toledo stations, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources division of watercraft.

An aircraft from the Coast Guard station in Detroit took part as well.

"We're assuming the worst case here," Chief Zerfass said.

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