Massive search underway for missing Sandusky boater

Coast Guard District 9 NewsCLEVELAND — The U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Air Force and other response agencies are searching Lake Erie near Lakewood, Ohio, for a missing boater whose vessel was located at anchor in Lake Erie Friday morning.

Missing is Michael Leslie, 43, of Sandusky, Ohio.

Leslie’s wife reported him missing at 7:17 p.m., Thursday, stating that he is an inexperienced mariner who ordinarily does not boat in the dark. She said he left from Sandusky Yacht Club. Authorities have located his vehicle at the yacht club.

A U.S. Coast Guard boatcrew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat – Medium from Station Cleveland Harbor located Leslie’s 31-foot cabin cruiser about one mile north of Lakewood at 9:15 a.m. Friday. Rough weather made it unsafe for the RB-M to get close enough to transfer crewmen to Leslie’s boat to check on him so three search and rescue technicians aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130 Hercules airplane that was assisting with the search parachuted down from the aircraft, swam to the vessel, and climbed aboard. The technicians reported no one was aboard the vessel.

It is not known if Leslie went into the water, but as a precaution the U.S. Coast Guard is coordinating search efforts as though he did.

Involved in the search so far have been a 45-foot Response Boat – Medium from Station Cleveland Harbor; a 41-foot Utility Boat from Station Lorain, Ohio; a 47-foot Motor Life Boat and a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement boat from Station Marblehead, Ohio; a 41-foot Utility Boat from Station Toledo, Ohio; an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Detroit; an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.; a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130 Hercules airplane from Trenton, Ontario; and members of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Customs and Border Protection.

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