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'It's tragic' — Fatal boat crash serves as 'wake up call' for anglers, boaters alike

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Posted at 6:18 AM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 09:13:55-05

HURON, Ohio — Ohio Department of Natural Resource officers were on the waters of Lake Erie again on Wednesday searching for a boater reported missing Tuesday night following a two boat crash near Huron. The crash, which happened around 9 p.m. on Tuesday, left one boater dead. Two others were rescued.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it received a call from a good Samaritan about two boats colliding on Lake Erie near Cranberry Creek between Huron and Vermilion. Four search boats responded and conducted search operations. The United States Coast Guard helicopter from Detroit also responded to help with an aerial search. Two people were rescued from the water. One boater was rushed to the hospital but later died.

One more boater remains unaccounted for. The identities of the victims have not been released.

The tragic accident came as a shock for members of Huron’s tight-knit boating and fishing community.

“It’s tragic, it’s tragic,” said Jeff Wilson, a coastal property owner and avid boater. “This boat hitting them was probably like a lightning bolt.”

Although the cause of the crash has not been determined, it comes as anglers from all over the state and region have flocked to shoreline communities like Huron for the peak walleye fishing season. In the fall months, walleye travel closer to the shore in order to prepare for the winter months.

Many anglers will “troll” the shallow waters in search of the walleye by traveling in their boats at extremely slow speeds with several lines deployed. Many anglers will begin trolling near dusk and well into the night.

“If you do it safely, you have proper lighting and you’re looking out all the time. The big thing is you don’t throttle up and run fast when you can’t see,” Wilson said. “If they’d been going a no-wake zone speed, the boats would have careened and bumper-boated off one another. There would not be this devastation.”

Greg Licht, an avid boater that traveled to Huron to go walleye fishing, said the tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for anglers and boaters of all kinds. He said navigation lights are required by law for a reason.

“It’s tragic when you lose someone else that might have been out there. For all I know, they could have been experienced boaters,” Licht said. “Even experienced boaters can run across someone that isn’t and it’s hard to avoid it. There’s nothing else you can do. You should have your lights on. I also have a spotlight for when I’m fishing in night so I can see what’s in front of me. It’s not just boats that you have to worry about in the water. You have floating debris out there.”

The investigation into the crash remains ongoing. ODNR reminds watercraft users to operate their equipment responsibly, always wear a life jacket, and pay close attention to local conditions and posted advisories.

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