Friends Hold Out Hope for Missing Kayakers

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By Allison Brown

MARGARETTA TWP., Ohio -- An Erie County community was holding onto hope for a safe recovery Sunday night, after two kayakers went missing over the weekend.

Jonathan Francis, 30, and his daughter Viola Francis, 12, launched their kayaks near Crystal Rock and headed toward the Edison Bridge, around 3 p.m Saturday.

Erie County officials said something happened along the way, and they never made it home.

“We don’t want to give up hope,” said Jackie Griffin, a family friend.

The Erie County Sheriff's Office tells Fox 8 the father and daughter were not wearing life jackets when they went out on the water.

On Sunday, the Coast Guard and officials from Erie and Ottawa County searched in the air and on the ground, but the search was called off later that afternoon.

Family, friends, and neighbors also helped.

"We've been out here searching the shoreline,” said Timothy Snyder, who is the fiancé of Viola’s mother.

Searchers explained they went through feelings of hope and despair after learning two kayaks were recovered in Ottawa County close to the shoreline.

Officials said a pair of shoes was also found near the kayak.

"It has been hope, despair, you know one moment you hear they found the kayaks," said Griffin. "Is that good news or bad news, did they make it ashore, are they walking, did they find a road, are they looking for someone."

The Erie County sheriff explained that the water conditions were very cold this weekend, about 40 degrees.

“Everyone is just calling, and texting their prayers,” said Snyder.

Family and friends of the missing are very grateful that people are still searching and that no one is giving up.

People have put up a small lighthouse near Crystal Rock and are praying for a safe return for the Francis family.

“It’s a beacon of hope, a beacon of light that they can find their way home,” Griffin said.

Jonathan was believed to be wearing navy blue sweatpants and a hoodie. Viola was believed to be wearing pink boots, dark leggings and a dark coat.

Anyone with information should call the Erie County Sheriff’s Office at (419) 625-7951.

For extended coverage on this story, click here.

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