Overdue fisherman found safe near Peelee Island after being adrift since Wednesday

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CLEVELAND — A Lake Erie fisherman was found safe aboard his vessel early this morning after being adrift since Wednesday morning.

At about 6:30 p.m., Thursday, a search-and-rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector Detroit received a report of an overdue boater. The boater, a 63-year-old male, reportedly departed Turtle Creek Marina near Oak Harbor, Ohio, at 7 a.m., Wednesday.

The SAR coordinator issued an urgent marine information broadcast and asked that any sightings of the overdue boater be reported to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard launched an air crew aboard a Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, and boat crews aboard 45-foot response boats from Coast Guard Station Toledo and Coast Guard Station Marblehead, Ohio. Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton, Ontario, assisted by launching an air crew aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and a boat crew aboard the Canadian Coast Guard boat Cape Dundass. Boat crews from Customs and Border Protection, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ottawa County Sherriff’s and Port Clinton Police Department also launched to assist in the search.

At about 12:20 a.m. Friday, the air crew aboard the Hercules aircraft spotted a boat matching the description of the missing boat southwest of Peelee Island in Canadian waters. The position of the vessel was passed to the Coast Guard helicopter air crew, which diverted to the location. Once on location, a rescue swimmer was lowered down to the boat to confirm identification – it was the missing fisherman.

The Ottawa County Sherriff’s Department marine unit arrived on scene and towed the disabled vessel, with the man aboard, to Put-in-Bay Marina on South Bass Island, Ohio. The boat operator was evaluated by emergency medical services from Put-in-Bay, Ohio, and was found in good condition with the exception of suffering from hunger and mild dehydration.

The fisherman stated that his 23-foot boat became disabled Wednesday morning, east of West Sister Island. He dropped anchor but the anchor did not hold and the vessel drifted for more than 18 miles before being seen by the Hercules air crew early Friday. He also stated that his cell phone became inoperable and was unable to call for help.

“We are very grateful that this search-and-rescue case had a happy ending,” said Chief Petty Officer Gabriel Settel, command duty officer at Sector Detroit. “However, this man and all boaters can learn from this case. Had this boater been carrying flares, a VHF-FM radio, or personal locator beacon, the search aspect of the case could have been shortened or even eliminated.

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