Search Suspended after ‘Heaven and Earth Moved’ to Find Boaters

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TURTLE POINT MARINA, Ohio-- The search for two missing boaters in Lake Erie was called off Thursday evening.

Earlier in the day, rescue crews found the bodies of two females, including a teenager, and spent the day looking for two men.

The US Coast Guard said they have indefinitely called off the search for the two boaters who are still missing in the lake.

But the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department and the Division of Wildlife said they will return to the Turtle Point Marina to search more at 8:00 a.m. Friday.

"We moved Heaven and Earth here to try to find these folks and it's very difficult, but all search and rescue cases are eventually closed or suspended and in this case, we are not closing the case, but suspending," said Commander Austin Ives, from the US Coast Guard station in Detroit.

Thursday, search crews recovered the bodies of 33-year-old Amy Santus of Perrysburg, south of Toledo and 17-year-old Paige Widmer, who was visiting from South Carolina.

"It's not the distance; it's not the dedication. It's in this case survivability; it's water temperature and for those reasons we'll suspend," said Commander Ives.

Investigators said Wednesday evening, the group of four went out on a fishing expedition in Lake Erie on a 21-foot boat, leaving from the Turtle Point Marina in Oak Harbor.

When they did not return, someone called authorities to say they were missing.

The Coast Guard dispatched two boats, two helicopters and a C-130 from Canada joined in the search, which was conducted about five miles off shore.

"The boat was located by the United States Coast Guard and that gave us a good area to begin the search then at that time, when the realization was that there were no victims on the boat, still to search the water in the area."

Families members spent the day at the marina waiting for news about their loved ones.

Investigators said both females were wearing life jackets, but they said the water temperature is less than 40 degrees, meaning that hypothermia can set in quickly.

"You gotta respect this lake and if you don't respect this lake, it could hurt you," said fisherman, David Furlong.

Fishermen leaving the same marina say even on nice days, Lake Erie can be deceiving.

"You can be out there and it can be flat, calm and in a matter of a few minutes, it can turn on you and you're in trouble," said fisherman, Kevin Toms.

"It's a tragic that it happened. Our prayers go out to the families," said fisherman, Jarett Koonce.

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