4 Swimmers Presumed Drowned In Lake Erie

By JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press Writer

HURON, Ohio (AP) - Four sunbathers who waded into 5-foot waves crashing on a Lake Erie beach to help a struggling woman were presumed drowned Wednesday, a fire official said.

The woman, who was not identified, was rescued by firefighters.

The Coast Guard and dive teams called off the search around 7 p.m. for the four men, believed to be between 18 and 30 years old, Huron fire Chief John Zimmerman said.

The swimmers were reported missing at 2:20 p.m. off Nickel Plate beach, said Paul Ricci, a battalion chief with the Sandusky Fire Department.

The search was complicated by the waves, Ricci said.

The rescued swimmer was taken to the Firelands Community Hospital in Sandusky. Hospital spokesman Ron Parthemore said the swimmer was in good condition and would be released Wednesday. Two firefighters who helped with the rescue were treated for exhaustion and were expected to be released, he said.

The waves on a windy afternoon would be about 5-feet high around the time the swimmers went missing, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Gregory Goetz of the Marblehead station.

"There were probably waves occasionally bigger, and there would have been a strong undertow," he said.

Huron is about 50 miles west of Cleveland.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)