Flare sighting leads to Coast Guard boater assist on Lake Erie near Geneva, Ohio

CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard towed a father and son to safety, Tuesday night, after their boat broke down in Lake Erie in the vicinity of Geneva, Ohio.

At about 9 p.m., a watchstander at Coast Guard Station Ashtabula, Ohio, responded to a phone call from a woman who reported three red flare sightings about 2 to 3 miles from her home in Geneva. The watchstander then contacted a search-and-rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector Buffalo who directed the launch of rescue assets from Coast Guard Stations Fairport, Ohio, and Ashtabula. The SAR coordinator also issued an urgent marine information broadcast requesting any boaters in the area to keep an eye out for distressed boats and assist if possible.

The SAR coordinator gathered more information from the reporting source using the clock method, and as a result was able to quickly direct search assets to the location of the distressed boaters.

A rescue boat crew aboard a 25-foot response boat from Station Ashtabula arrived on scene with the disabled boat at about 9:35 p.m. The rescue boat crew confirmed with the boaters that they were the ones that fired the flares. The boat crew then connected a tow line to the boat and towed the boaters to safety. The disabled boat was safely moored in Geneva at about 10:10 p.m.

“This case highlights the importance of reporting flare sightings or other unusual activity,” said Mike Baron, Coast Guard 9th District recreational boating safety specialist. “The boaters were prepared for an emergency with flares; a Good Samaritan on land reported the sighting and remained in contact with search and rescue officials, which in this case prevented a bad situation from getting worse.”

Members of the public are encouraged to report any flare sighting to 911 or their local Coast Guard unit.  Click here for more information on how to effectively report a flare sighting

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