Coast Guard: Surviving fisherman tells them his friend died this morning; recovery mission underway

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A man who was found alive in Lake Erie on Tuesday told the Coast Guard that his friend died at around 5 a.m. this morning. He says he held onto his friend for several hours before letting go.

The ODNR is now in charge of the recovery mission.

One of the men was found alive on top of the missing boat, 16 miles offshore from the marina.  He was lifted from the boat via helicopter. He originally said he lost sight of the second fisherman at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, but while being interviewed in the hospital, he said his friend died this morning. He also said big waves led to the boat turning over.

The two men didn't return at their usual time by Monday night, so the daughter of one of the men called the U.S. Coast Guard.

"The gentlemen left from this marina yesterday morning at 5:30 a.m.," Commander Tad Drozdowski, U.S. Coast Guard, said. "According to one of the family members, they're usually done fishing by about 7:30 p.m."

That family member found the vehicle her father and his friend drove to Edgewater Marina still parked there. Her calls went straight to voicemail.

She called the Coast Guard around 9:30 p.m. Monday, and they immediately began a search of Lake Erie for the missing fishermen. The Cleveland Division of Police, Lakewood Fire Department, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources also joined in the search.

Drozdowski said the mens' cell phones last pinged around 9:10 a.m. Monday.

Both men are off-duty RTA employees, according to RTA.

According to the Coast Guard, the men were on a 22-foot white Starcraft with green trim.

The Coast Guard said it was using a 45-foot response boat with a crew from the Station Cleveland Harbor. An airplane and helicopter from Canada was also assisting in the search. Another helicopter from Air Station Detroit was en route to assist in the search.

We will continue to bring you updates as they come in.