Authorities Search for 4 Missing Fishermen on Lake Erie
Friday, July 03, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller
Print ShareThisDEVELOPING: The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian authorities are scouring Lake Erie for four fishermen whose 19-foot boat sailed from a Michigan park a day earlier.
The men, who are between 50 and 70 years old, left Sterling Park in Monroe, Mich., Thursday morning and had planned to return by 4 p.m., Greg Fondran, a search and rescue controller at the U.S. Coast Guard's District Nine Command Center, told FOXNews.com.
Fondran said three of the four men have cell phones with them but have not answered calls by authorities. The last incoming and outgoing calls received and placed by the phones were at about noon Thursday, he said.
Weather conditions have not been severe, Fondran said, leading authorities to believe the 19-foot boat likely had not capsized or overturned.
"Though it's always possible," he continued. "You can get a rogue wave and all of a sudden, you're taken over."
Family members contacted the Coast Guard at about 9 p.m. Thursday. Boats, helicopters and other aircraft from the U.S. and Canada have been searching since that time, Fondran said.
"We're obviously concerned," he said. "We're considering it a distress case."
BY TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA, ZLATI MEYER AND ROBIN ERB
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
Update at 6:35
Four fisherman missing in the Lake Erie have been found alive near their capsized boat off Middle Sister Island in Lake Erie.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Brandon Blackwell said Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies found the men about 5:45 p.m.
Authorities identified the four as Douglas Whittaker, 76, of Eaton Rapids; Roy Letson, 52, of Charlotte; Vert, 64, of Lansing, and Ronnie Miller, 63, of Eaton Rapids. They left Sterling State Park in Monroe around 8 a.m. Thursday in a 19-foot Sylvan fishing boat, U.S. Coast Guard Commander Dave Beck said this morning.
David Zachman, whose stepfather, 64-year-old Larry Vert, was among the missing, said the U.S. Coast Guard called his mother about 6 p.m. to let her know the men were found alive.
The four Michigan men were last seen after leaving to fish for walleye about 8 a.m. Thursday.
The group, he said, made two critical decisions: They let loved ones know where they were going and when they’d return, and they stayed with their capsized vessel.
“It gives us something larger to look for,” he said, referring to search crews. He said the men showed signs of hypothermia, but no other serious injuries. They are being taken to shore and will be examined.
It was still unclear, Blackwell said, why the boat capsized.
Am I reading this right.....on the lake since yesterday morning, reported missing last night, and found today at 5:45pm???
I reread and that is the case. To me it is a miracle that they could survive in the water that long. I am 20 years plus their jr. and I don't know if I could last that long. Glad the story turned out well. That had to be a loooooong night.