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Search continues for missing Port Burwell, Ont. boater after empty vessel turns up in Ohio

The vessel located along the rocky shore in Madison Township, Ohio on Aug. 11, 2022. The boat's occupant remains missing. Credit: Madison Township Police Department via Twitter

A missing vessel at the centre of a search in the waters of Lake Erie was located Thursday morning along the Ohio shoreline but the boat’s occupant was nowhere to be found, Ontario Provincial Police said.

A passerby walking along the shore in Madison Township, Ohio, located the vessel around 8:43 a.m., police said.

The boat was found on a rocky portion of the shore, and boarding it was challenging due to rough surf, reported Cleveland-based WOIO-TV, citing Madison Township police.

In a tweet, Madison Township police said that “numerous Canadian search and rescue aircraft were dispatched and were operating in the area.” The tweet included a photo of a Griffon helicopter from the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron at the scene.

In an emailed statement, Maj. Trevor Reid, senior public affairs officer with the One Canadian Air Division of the Canadian Armed Forces, said RCAF search and rescue members were hoisted onto the boat by helicopter and determined it to be the missing vessel.

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Read more: Lake Erie search underway for missing Port Burwell boater: OPP

The discovery came roughly 42 hours after the boat, a white-coloured 21-foot Striper with a black-coloured canopy, initially set off around 2 p.m. Tuesday from Port Burwell Marina, nearly 100 km from Madison, and failed to return later that night.

Emergency crews were notified around 11:38 p.m. Tuesday by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) at CFB Trenton, police said, and a search commenced involving multiple agencies, including JRCC, the Canadian Coast Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard, OPP, Bayham Fire and Emergency Services, and Elgin EMS.

After a day of searching on Wednesday, search and rescue teams resumed their efforts on Thursday morning for the boat’s occupant.

As of Thursday afternoon, RCAF aircraft, OPP boats, Canadian Coast Guard vessels and a Port Burwell Fire Department boat were among those participating in the search, Reid said.

An official with the U.S. Coast Guard 9th District told Global News that a vessel known as a “response boat – small” departed the Coast Guard station in Grand River, Ohio to perform a search of the shoreline.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Greg Schell said shoreline searches were conducted one mile (1.6 km) east and one mile west from where the vessel was located until around 11:20 a.m.

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Weather at the time that the boater went missing was good, according to Reid.

Police ask anyone with information to contact them at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers.

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