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The U.S. Coast Guard in Ohio suspended its search for a missing man Saturday evening after a 23-foot boat he was on capsized on Lake Erie.

The search began around 10:34 a.m. Saturday when someone made a MAYDAY call to the Coast Guard in the Eastern Great Lakes Sector in Buffalo, New York, the U.S. Coast Guard’s 9th District said in a press release.

A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit and a boat crew from Station Cleveland Harbor joined the search, but nearly an hour later, the Air Station Detroit crew was dispatched to assist with another case involving a person submerged in the water in Lake Erie off Ashtabula.

The Cleveland Harbor crew continued working on the first case and the Air Station Detroit crew returned to assist after the other rescue was completed.

At 1:46 p.m., a local fire department contacted the Eastern Great Lakes Sector and advised them that they had found coolers and other debris floating in the water approximately 1 to 2 nautical miles off the Perry Generating Station.

3 people found in the water: 1 responsive, 1 unresponsive

The Detroit crew, dispatched to another rescue, attended to that case, refueled, and came back to assist. They found a responsive person in the water wearing a life jacket and rescued him.

The fire department boat crew also rescued one person from the water who was wearing a life jacket. Cleveland Harbor crew rescued a third person, a man who was unresponsive and later pronounced dead at a hospital, the Coast Guard said.

In addition to the three people, search teams also found the 23-foot-long boat, which capsized and partially sank shortly before 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Divers from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office searched the boat. Investigators do not know what caused the boat to capsize.

Fourth boater missing, search called off

After the three boaters were rescued, search crews discovered that a fourth person was still missing. It was not immediately clear whether the person was wearing a life jacket or not.

A boat crew from the Fairport Coast Guard Station was dispatched to find the fourth person. The Fairport Coast Guard Station, the Detroit flight crew and the local fire department worked together to search for this fourth person.

The Coast Guard called off the search Saturday evening after rescue crews spent 10 hours searching the site by air and boat. The search covered 64 square miles, an area slightly smaller than the city of Cleveland, the Coast Guard said.

“Suspending a search and rescue operation is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make,” said Captain Mark Kuperman, commander of the Coast Guard Eastern Great Lakes Sector, in a press release.

More than ten agencies were involved in the search, including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Lake County Fire Department, Perry Police Department and Mentor Fire Department.

The Coast Guard said the Cleveland Harbor crew eventually called off the search due to crew fatigue.

Kuperman thanked the authorities involved in the search and praised the crews’ efforts to return the boaters safely to their families.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this tragic incident,” he said.

5 more people rescued in Lake Erie on Saturday

Elsewhere in Lake Erie, the U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday rescued five people clinging to a cooler about 10 miles off the Ohio coast, the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY network, reported. The people were on a 22-foot boat that was “swamped” by a wave, causing the group to plunge into the water.


Coast Guard rescues capsized boaters clinging to cooler

Coast Guard officials rescued five boaters after their boat was capsized by a wave on Lake Erie.

Someone in the group called 911 and they were rescued. The Coast Guard posted footage of the rescue on social media.

The rescued people were all wearing life jackets and there were no medical problems, the Coast Guard said. The people were flown to Northwest Ohio Regional Airport in Jefferson.

Contributor: Elissa Robinson, Detroit Free Press

Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757th. Follow her on Twitter at @SaleenMartin or email her at [email protected].