AVON LAKE — First responders from Avon Lake fire, police, Sheffield Lake fire and the Coast Guard from the Lorain and Detroit stations worked together to locate and rescue four fishermen stranded in the water after their boat overturned in the waters off the Miller Road Park boat ramp.
Avon Lake fire Capt. James Berry said the boat capsized Tuesday afternoon about a mile offshore in Lake Erie.
Josh Menuez, one of the four rescued, said he and three family friends, one of whom was a juvenile, came to the lake from Holmes County to go walleye fishing when a wave tipped over the 20-foot boat.
Menuez said the boat overturned after its bilge pump failed. A bilge pump is a device used to pump water from the lowest inner part of the boat.
As the boat started going under, Menuez said he called 911 while trying keeping his cell phone above water. He stayed on the phone with dispatchers while he and the three others floated in the water in lifejackets.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Deven Blair, of the Lorain station, said it took about 30 to 40 minutes to reach the four after receiving the call. Since the boat was so far out from the shore, Menuez said the day would’ve been a different story if he hadn’t kept his phone safe and made the call.
“We would have still been out there floating around, I guarantee it,” he said. “I didn’t even see any other boats out there.”
Blair said incidents like what happened Tuesday don’t happen often, but they tend to happen at the start of boating season as boats emerge from storage.
“It’s hard when people don’t take their boats out all winter because the lake’s frozen, (but when) they take it out for the first time, something breaks while they’re out there.”
Injuries were limited to minor cuts and scrapes. The four were able to walk back to a truck and leave the area.