A two-day search of more than 5,000 square miles of Lake Ontario by helicopters, boats and airplanes for a missing boater from western New York has been called off, in what officials describe as an extremely difficult decision for rescuers to make, the U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday.
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John Suppel, 60, of Lewiston, was reported missing Thursday morning after launching his 16-foot camouflage-colored pleasure craft Wednesday out of Wilson-Tuscarora State Park in the town of Wilson, 30 miles north of Buffalo, officials said.
The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards, along with local Canadian and New York law enforcement agencies, coordinated the 49-hour search effort.
'Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends,' said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Joseph Higgins, a deputy commander for the agency in Buffalo. 'The decision to suspend a search takes extreme consideration and is one of the most difficult decisions a Coast Guardsman is ever faced with.'
Heavy rain and foggy conditions initially kept helicopters and C-130 Hercules airplane from searching over the water, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.
Contact information for Suppel’s family wasn’t immediately available. But a friend, Jamie Brolinski, told WIVB-TV in Buffalo Thursday that Suppel was an experienced boater who had gone out on the water to fish Wednesday.