CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Authorities have recovered the body of a 21-year-old man who went under the water in Lake Erie Sunday morning.
Kit Quigley was outside doing yoga at Veterans Park in Avon Lake, when she noticed something was wrong.
"Saw two kids drift by on this beautiful day, and the rough seas-- all of a sudden distress. We heard 'help, help' and one of the fellows had fallen off the raft. We immediately stopped, ran out, tried to do a human chain, but they were way far out," Quigley said.
As someone called for help, Kit ran to her house nearby, grabbed a kayak and jumped into the water.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this would occur in my backyard. And it was so hard, as we yelled to him, and he has his arms up in panic. 'Don't panic, stay calm, just breathe,'" she said.
Once the Avon Lake Fire Department arrived on Beachdale Drive off of Lake Road, Chief Chris Huerner confirmed two men, in their early 20's, were struggling in the water and while one made it back to shore, the other did not.
Their search and rescue turned into a recovery effort after about an hour.
Authorities believe the men entered the water at Veterans Park, which is right next door.
Crews with the Coast Guard and other fire departments, including North Ridgeville, Avon, Amherst and Wellington Fire took part in recovery efforts as well.
The man's family watched, distraught, as the search dragged on for several hours.
"The water's warm, but it's pushing the boats and the divers, so we're trying to locate him on the 'last seen' point, but the currents are pushing them around so it's hard to stay where they need to be searching," said Avon Lake Fire Chief Chris Huerner.
Hours later, the family ran to the water after one of the crews signaled he found something.
"I'm so sad for the family. Who would've thought on a Sunday like this. But Lake Erie, we know, can be pretty treacherous," Quigley said.
Unfortunately, firefighters say the victim did not have a life vest with him in his plastic blow up raft.
Firefighters want to remind anyone out on the lake how important it is to wear one while you're in the water or on a boat.
We're still waiting for the medical examiner to release the victim's name.