Coast Guard searching Lake Erie for vessel in distress with 4 people aboard

9th Coast Guard District NewsCLEVELAND – U.S. Coast Guard boat and aircrews are searching Lake Erie for any indication of a vessel reported to be in distress Wednesday night with four people aboard about six miles off shore between Lorain, Ohio and Vermilion, Ohio.

A pilot in a private plane reported witnessing five red flares being shot from a 25-30-foot boat with four people aboard, all wearing life jackets with personal strobe lights activated, as the pilot was flying between Vermilion and Lorain at 11:26 p.m. Wednesday.

The pilot was unable to gain additional information about the vessel due to the altitude at which he was flying.

Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, N.Y., directed the launch of a boatcrew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small from Station Lorain, an aircrew aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Detroit, and the Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay to search the area. Thursday morning a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130 Hercules plane also joined in the search.

The boat, cutter and both aircraft continue to search the area Thursday morning. Also assisting are Lorain police.

The cutter Thunder Bay is a 140-foot ice-breaking tug normally homeported in Rockland, Maine, but arrived in Cleveland Dec. 12, 2011, for a temporary winter assignment to augment the eight other Great Lakes-based icebreakers.

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