Coast Guard suspends search for missing kayakers

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LORAIN, Ohio -- The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for two missing kayakers, after their kayaks were found in a wooded area near the bait shop, officials confirmed to Fox 8 News.

The kayaks rented by Nicole Launert, 27, and Mike Smith, 30, were found in a wooded area near the bait shop. (Photo Credit: Fox 8 News)

Search crews had previously been searching for the kayakers in Lake Erie and the Black River, after they failed to return to their boat launch in Lorain Tuesday night, a news release stated.

Nicole Launert, 27, and  Mike Smith, 30, were identified by the Coast Guard as the missing kayakers.  Officials have not yet located the pair, but say they no longer believe them to be in danger. They could, however, be in legal trouble if it is determined they dumped the boats without paying.

According to the news release, the owners of Grumpy's Bait Bucket called to inform the Coast Guard that two kayakers, who had departed at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, did not return when they were expected to by sunset.

The owner of Grumpy's Bait Bucket said he believes the couple used fake names to rent the kayaks, then ditched them so they wouldn't have to pay. Strengthening his theory, is the fact that not one family member or friend came forward when their names were released Wednesday morning.

That's why, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, the case will be closed on their end.

The investigation has been turned over to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Since so many Coast Guard resources were used in the search, including boats, a helicopter from Detroit and a plane from the Canadian Coast Guard, charges could be filed should the pair be found.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Buffalo Command Center at (716) 843-9527.

Stay with Fox 8 and for updates on this developing story.