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Fishing Season Tragedy Leaves 4 Dead

2014 spring Put-in-Bay fishing season marred by accident- Four people fishing reportedly from a small bass boat near Green and Rattlesnake Islands on Wednesday, April 16th, were reported missing shortly after midnight the next day when they failed to return to the launch ramp at Turtle Point Marina at Locust Point on the mainland west of the islands where they had parked their truck and boat trailer.

At first, no one knew how many anglers were fishing from the boat. There were reports of three to five people. The 21-ft. Tracker boat they were using capsized at some point and was found partially submerged by the U.S. Coast Guard off the Davis-Bessie Nuclear Power Station near Toussaint Reef west of the islands at about 6:30 a.m. by a private boater. About three hours later, the body of a 16-year-old woman, Page Widmer, from South Carolina, was found wearing a life jacket. Another woman, Page’s aunt, Amy Santus of Perrysburg, was found later that day with a life jacket on.

Despite a massive search involving the Coast Guard with boats and helicopters, Customs and Border Protection, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and local and Canadian resources, the bodies of their two male companions, Andrew Rose, 33, of Maumee, and Bryan Huff, 32, of Rossford, friends from childhood and avid fishermen who often took part in tournaments, were not recovered.

They were presumed dead after the U.S. Coast Guard called off the search on Thursday evening. According to reports, searchers with the Division of Watercraft went out both Friday and Saturday. The ODNR was using sonar equipment to scan the lake bottom.

More than 200 square nautical miles were searched by Thursday evening. With the water temperature still in the 30s, there is little hope of rescuing someone in the water for more than an hour. Generally, if someone is not wearing a life jacket, their body sinks to the bottom of the lake and doesn’t come up until it warms up. Autopsies at the Lucas County Coroner’s Office showed Santus and Widmer drowned. The missing anglers touched base with their family at about 6 p.m. Everything seemed all right. Prior to the Fishing Season Tragedy, the anglers had reportedly sent pictures of themselves fishing to their relatives.

When the boat was recovered, there appeared to be no significant structural damage or signs of a collision. With debris floating coming into the lake after the winter, boats are always concerned about hitting logs and oversized items. Authorities said all safety equipment, including extra life jackets, was aboard the ship. The Division of Watercraft reportedly plans to look at the boat’s GPS to determine where the vessel was and could examine the boat motor to see any problems.


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