Cleveland is a world-class city with major league sports teams, amazing museums, restaurants, the best medical care and the is city that hosted the convention that nominated the next president of the United States. Yet, when a small jet carrying six people went down less than two miles off the shores of Lake Erie, we seemed less than ready.
In the first hours, we mustered up a small coast guard boat that was forced back to port by the waves. The closest helicopters and other search and rescue aircraft to assist came from Detroit and Canada -- as did a 140-foot boat that could manage the high waves.
Cleveland 19 investigators found poor communication left an Army Corps of Engineers boat, with infrared technology, sitting at the dock. The police union claims the department’s helicopter sat idle with the pontoons needed over rough waters not attached and allegedly without current certifications for marine use.
The city, despite many questions, so far has been silent on these issues.
It doesn’t sound like any of this would have saved lives in this specific and tragic situation. The point of our stories -- and this editorial -- isn’t to point fingers or play the blame game. But two grieving families may have waited longer than they needed to for answers. And what if the next time this is a larger commercial jet? And what if the next time minutes do make the difference between life and death? Will we be ready? We need answers before first responders need to perform their next Lake Erie rescue.
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