Coast Guard searching for four overdue boaters

MONROE, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard continues to search for four overdue boaters in western Lake Erie.

The 19-foot fishing vessel, light gray in color with a blue stripe and a single outboard motor, did not return to Sterling Park, here, as expected late Thursday afternoon.

The vessel got underway from Sterling Park at approximately 8 a.m. Thursday, for a fishing trip. The boat owner’s daughter notified the Coast Guard about the overdue vessel at approximately 10 p.m. Thursday.

Coast Guard Air Station Detroit launched an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter. Coast Guard Station Toledo, Ohio, and Coast Guard Station Marblehead, Ohio, launched boats to aid in the search. Canadian Coast Guard air and sea assets are also assisting in the search along with air and sea assets from the Monroe County Sheriffs Department, according to the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit Command Center.

Nothing has been found.

The boaters, Douglas Whittaker, Roy Letson, Larry Vert and Ron Miller, are between the ages of 52 and 75, according to Irma Whittaker, the wife of boat-owner Douglas.

“Douglas is an avid boater and very mechanical,” said Whittaker, “If there was trouble with the engine, he would be able to tackle that. They also had life jackets and a GPS on board.”

Whittaker last contacted her husband by cell phone at approximately 12 p.m. Thursday. There were no signs of distress.

“The first helicopter crew searched through the night for approximately eight hours, having to refuel twice,” said Petty Officer Natasha Brooks, watchstander at Air Station Detroit. “A second helicopter crew has relieved the first and is now searching.”

“We have used all of our assets in this search,” said Seaman Bradley Stebbings, watchstander at Station Toldeo.

Station Toledo is equipped with two 25-foot Response Boat-Smalls (RBS) and one 41-foot Utility Boat (UTB).

“Our assets have been searching through the night, and continue to search,” said Petty Officer Jason Perkins, Officer-of-the-Day at Station Marblehead.

Station Marblehead has utilized a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat (MLB) and a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft (SPC-LE).

The Coast Guard is asking that anyone seeing a vessel fitting the description of the overdue vessel, or having any information regarding this case, to contact the nearest Coast Guard Station.

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