CELINA — A boat found adrift on Grand Lake St. Marys Tuesday night sparked a search for a missing person that continued this morning.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft spokesperson John Wisse said officials received a report early Tuesday evening that an officer found a vacant boat adrift on the lake. Evidence found on the boat led to a search for a missing person — a 57-year-old male who was reportedly fishing on the 22-foot pontoon boat earlier in the day.
“One of our officers boarded the boat and no one was found on it,” Wisse told The Evening Leader this morning. “He found the rear safety gate open and now we are treating it as a missing person case.”
Officials identified the owner and talked to immediate family members, who reported the male was fishing on the lake. Based on that information, Wisse said a search started at 9 p.m. Tuesday and concluded at midnight. The search then resumed at 6 a.m. this morning with assistance from the St. Marys Township Fire Department, Montezuma Fire Department, state park office and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office.
“The boat was found in the western portion of the lake,” Wisse said. “This morning, we identified a general search area from Safety Island, northeast to Riley Bay — that’s about 3 to 4 miles in size.”
Wisse said as more information unfolds, the search area could change.
“We are doing analysis of water conditions and weather conditions from last night,” Wisse said. “That is typical for search operations to determine where we need to be looking. I want to emphasize this is a missing person case at this point, we just don’t know everything that is going on.”