Ohio Department of Natural Resources continues to search Sandusky Bay; Family remains hopeful

CRYSTAL ROCK, Ohio - The search continued Monday for two missing kayakers in Sandusky Bay. Jonathan Francis and his daughter Viola were last seen leaving their Crystal Rock home Saturday with two kayaks.

"All we can do right now is comfort one another," said Gwen Gwinner, Jonathan's mother. "We're doing a lot of praying that they can be found."

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources spent Monday searching for the two who were reported missing Sunday morning by a friend. Officials said search efforts would continue Tuesday morning.

"We're still considering this a missing persons case," said Paul Sigsworth of the Erie County Sheriff. "But as time goes on, we have to prepare for what may be the worst."

The Erie County Sheriff and the U.S. Coast Guard have suspended their search after looking for the pair by watercraft and helicopter Sunday. Authorities said they found the kayaks on the other side of the bay Sunday morning.

"I want them to continue searching until we get some answers," said Gwinner.

Viola's mother sat on the shoreline Monday overcome with emotion and surrounded by family, while others watched the search boat in the bay hoping for good news.

"He [Jonathan] was eager to be on the water, and he likes the water," said Gwinner.

Family said the pair could swim, but neither had a life jacket. Despite the warmer weather this weekend, the water in the bay is dangerously cold.

"The water is only 39 or 40 degrees, and if you go into that water at that temperature, in all likelihood, hypothermia is going to set in very, very quickly," said Sigsworth. "Your chance of survival will not be too good."

But Crystal Rock residents are keeping the light on in a small green lighthouse that they put at the shoreline. They say that will help Jonathan and Viola find their way home.

"She [Viola] looked up to her dad," said Gwinner. "He was like her hero, and she was his life."

If you plan to go boating, the Erie County Sheriff recommends always having a life jacket on hand, carrying a cell phone, and taking a boaters safety course. More information about the course can be found here: http://www.boat-ed.com/ohio/ .

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