LORAIN, Ohio - The U.S. Coast Guard stopped looking for a group of possible missing boaters on Lake Erie Thursday night.
Officials said a pilot flying over Lake Erie spotted five red flares coming from a boat about six miles off shore between Lorain and Vermilion. The pilot reported also seeing four people on board and said all of them were wearing life jackets.
Once notified, the Coast Guard started a search and rescue mission, deploying boats, a helicopter and bringing in a Royal Canadian Air Force plane.
"Which is a fixed-wing aircraft with crew and they're also attempting to search," said Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Reinhart.
Officials said they were canvassing about a five-mile stretch of the lake, but the search expanded because of windy conditions on the water. The search was called off Thursday after crews found no signs of the boaters. The Coast Guard also said there have been no reporters of overdue boaters.
Thursday's search is the sixth one so far this week by the Great Lakes Coast Guard units. Water safety experts said despite warmer weather, water temperatures are a lot colder.
"If you fall in on a day like today, you would literally have minutes before cold water would start to affect your blood in your arms and in your legs. Your muscles, your nerves would start to get cold and not function properly," said Bill Staiger, with the Division of Watercraft at Ohio's Department of Natural Resources.
Staiger said boaters need to wear life jackets, but also dress for colder weather. He said there are special dry and inflatable suits you can wear to keep safe.
"Every spring we have these types of incidents where people go boating early and they forget to dress for the cold water," said Staiger.