The hunt for a 28-year-old male boater reported missing on Chippewa Lake in Ohio ended in great sadness on Sunday, 27th of June, when his body was recovered from the water. According to witness accounts, the unnamed man jumped from a boat into the water at roughly 9pm on Saturday and did not resurface. Some reports suggest that the boat may have been occupied by a group of people, although this has not been officially confirmed.

After the alert was raised, Chippewa Lake was closed off to the public while the Ohio Department of Natural Resources led efforts to locate the missing man. Several additional agencies including the Medina County Sheriff Office, the Medina Count All Hazards Team,  the Westfield Fire Department, the Medina Park District, and Wooster Township Dive and Rescue all rallied to assist in the search. 

Local Communities Rally

Volunteers are reported to have searched alongside the numerous rescue crews overnight, while divers and Ranger boats took to the water on Sunday morning in the hope that the man might still be found alive. As one of the largest of Ohio’s natural lakes, and spanning 325 acres, Chippewa Lake represented a vast body of water within which to mount such a challenging rescue effort.

After almost 24 hours of searching, the worst fears of all involved were realized when the missing man’s body was discovered. Although his identity has not been shared with the public, the Medina County Coroner Dr. Lisa Deranek confirmed that he resided in Seville. In a Facebook post, the Sheriff’s office described the investigation as complicated before expressing, “Our thoughts go out to the victim of the incident. The patience of the community is appreciated during this difficult time.” 

The Loss Of A Loving Family

This is very tragic,” the county coroner continued, sharing that the man “came from a very loving family.” Sharing her empathy for their loss, she continued, “they were all there waiting the entire time, until we were able to recover his body, more than 24 hours straight. You don’t always see that in these kinds of situations, believe it or not. They’re just a very loving family, a wonderful and supportive family.

Speaking to 19 News, friends of the unidentified man in his twenties are reported to have said that he grew up boating on Chippewa Lake. A witness shared that the man’s hat blew off into the water, and he jumped in to retrieve it. Framed by this unfortunate and unexpected turn of events, the investigation continues in an effort to understand how such a tragedy might have occurred. An autopsy and toxicology screen have been initiated through Cuyahoga County, but results are not expected to emerge for four to six months. 

Safety On The Water

Chippewa Lake is a popular destination for boaters, offering the added draw of sights of a neighboring abandoned amusement park that has been closed since 1978. Following this recent fatal incident, safety on the water has been drawn into debate. Medina County Park District Director Nate Eppink stated that while a park district boat was on the water for much of the day on Saturday, they were no longer out on Chippewa Lake at 9 pm in the evening. He shared, however, that a ranger was stationed on Kennard Road, “a minute around the corner, in the close vicinity,” when the call came in.
There are reportedly no immediate plans to increase lake patrol, but Medina County Park District recently purchased the adjacent Chippewa Lake Amusement Park property and has expressed intentions to develop the site in the future. Eppink also shared his sentiments on such a loss of life, saying “This was a tragic event and our hearts go out to the family.