AVON LAKE — The search for a Cleveland-area man presumed drowned Wednesday resumes this morning.
The search was suspended about 12:05 this morning near the deadly discharge channel by the Genon power plant.
“All we can go on is the point he was last seen,” Avon Lake fire Lt. Jeff Moore told distraught relatives of the Cleveland man around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday night. “Our mission is to bring him back.”
The 23-year-old man went underwater about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday and was reported missing at 8:36 p.m., according to police spokesman Lt. Duane Streator, who said the lag time between the disappearance and the notification is typical because people often don’t have phones near water. Streator said the man, who he wouldn’t identify, was fishing with five other men.
The search included a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and a 41-foot rescue boat along with three divers from the Lorain County Dive team and two Avon Lake firefighters on personal watercraft.
The channel has a deadly history: Three men drowned near it in 2007, one in 2009 and a 17-year-old Cleveland youth drowned last July.
The channel is a no-swim area, and the city is working with Genon and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to put up signs warning of the danger. Mayor Greg Zilka said city officials are waiting for approval of the signs.
“Many people in Avon Lake and the immediate area are aware of the potential danger,” Zilka said. “(But) people who are not from the immediate area, they are not apprised of the dangers. They may see a sign, but the meaning of it doesn’t sink in or they don’t realize the full effect of the situation.”
About two dozen relatives of the man, some of them crying, gathered in Miller Road Park awaiting news.
“One of the saddest things about this is usually by the time the call makes it in, it is frustratingly late,” said Gary Gerrone, Avon Lake recreation director.
Shortly before the suspension of the search, a crying relative of the man paced back and forth.
“Oh Lord, I don’t know what to do. Please let him be OK,” she said. “I’m begging you, Lord.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or email@example.com.