New response boat doubles search capabilities

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Marblehead OH – A new 45-foot response boat near where 2 boaters went missing and 2 others were discovered dead will double search capabilities should another emergency search effort ensue.

"We can double the search capabilities in the summer time on a two boat station," Capt. Chris Gempp with the US Coast Guard tells Channel 3's Hilary Golston. Two crews on board two boats will create "longer on-scene time for searching and rescue."

The watercraft propels the Marblehead, Ohio Coast Guard station into new territory. This is the first time the station will have such substantial and technologically advanced search equipment. It joins another boat of the same size, two 25-foot response boats, one 20-foot airboat and one inflatable rescue craft.

The new response boat is faster than previous boats of similar size. The vessel can reach speeds past 40 knots. She even comes equipped with "forward-looking infrared search technology."

It also has the capability to traverse water that is not deep – a comparatively impressive feat considering its predecessors.

She can handle heavy seas and waves up to 12 feet. "The shock ride system that it has allows us to travel in two to four foot seas." The boat's maneuverability creates "half the response time on any other vessel that we've ever had here," Officer Kyle Love of the US Coast Guard reports.

The Department of Natural Resources took over control of the search and the investigation in the infancy of the incident. They had to delay their search for the two remaining boaters after rocky waters sidelined the state agency.

The bodies of 33-year-old Amy Santus of Perrysburg and 16-year-old Paige Widmer of Leesville, South Carolina were pulled from Lake Erie shortly after the April 17 incident. The two men Widmer and Santus left shore with are presumed dead. Their bodies have not been recovered.

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