October 25, 2014

Elyria
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54°F
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Lake Erie search suspended


Body of one missing boater recovered; others ‘likely not alive’

VERMILION — The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday called off the search for two of the three boaters who had been reported missing following an overnight fishing trip.

The body of one of the boaters, 46-year-old Cass Monchilov, was found about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday near a beach at the northeast end of Kelleys Island by a lookout with the Coast Guard. The cause of death was not known Wednesday.

COURTESY OF 19 ACTION NEWS
Coast Guard rescuers recover the body of one of three boaters who went missing on Lake Erie.

Petty Officer Will Mitchell said the search for the remaining two men was called off about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday because too many factors, including hypothermia and the threat of drowning, existed for the men to still be alive.

“We fully saturated the area, but at a certain point, we just can’t be exhausting all our efforts to locate someone that is likely not alive,” he said. “Even so, this could turn into a search-and-rescue mission again if more information comes forward.”

After the men were reported missing about 9:30 p.m. Monday, the Coast Guard covered 913 square miles of lake, focusing on the area around Kelleys Island, North Bass, Middle Bass and South Bass islands, Marblehead, Catawba Bay and shoreline searches from Vermilion to Kelleys Island.

Multiple agencies from Ohio, Detroit and Canada were involved in the search.

The 21-foot aluminum power boat that the men are believed to have been in had not been found Wednesday, but debris including four life jackets, carpeting and wood was discovered at the mouth of the Vermilion River — stuck between a tug boat and the barge it was pulling, Mitchell said.

The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit of Toledo is investigating how that debris got between the 505-foot long tug and barge, Mitchell said. Crews from the tug boat notified the Coast Guard after finding the debris Tuesday.

Monchilov, Christopher Crowner, 46, and Dan Crowner, 44, all of Wooster, left the Vermilion public boat ramp between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. Sunday, according to Bill McCarthy, port operations manager in Vermilion.

Monchilov called his daughter about 11 p.m. Sunday to say they had dropped anchor in a secluded spot for the night, said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Scott Ferguson. The weather was clear and waves never reached more than about two feet, he said.

While dropping anchor in the middle of the lake isn’t the safest thing to do, it’s a common practice among veteran boaters, Ferguson said. McCarthy said the men had stayed on the lake overnight before.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.