Family wants change, press release

CONNEAUT, Ohio (WJW) – A large-scale search of Lake Erie off Conneaut Township Park has turned up no sign of the body of an 11-year-old boy from suburban Akron, who was was carried away by rip currents on Friday.

At the Conneaut City Council meeting Monday evening, members heard a series of proposals on ways to improve safety for visitors to the lake.

It’s important to note that Township Park is managed by a park board, but Conneaut Town Council members say they are interested in any proposals that will help prevent future tragedies and protect all parkside visitors. lake.

“We want the community to come forward and tell us what they would like to see. We want to be their voice and we want to be receptive to their concerns,” Conneaut Council President Terry Moisio said.

During the council session, a statement was read on behalf of the grieving family of the 11-year-old victim, identified by his first name “Hunter.”

The Springfield Township fifth-grader was swept away by the tide while he, his mother and a friend visited the park Friday afternoon.

The family’s statement said, in part, that “words cannot express.” He was a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and just a caring and loving child.

The National Weather Service issued a warning Friday morning about rip currents caused by high winds and wave action. The statement said Hunter’s family was unaware of the NWS warning to stay out of the water.

According to the press release, “we suggest that more life jackets (are necessary), awareness of riptides, knowledge of riptides for those who do not know the force of these waters. We do not want any more victims to die in these tragic waters. Hunter will always be loved and missed.

Among other visitors to the Conneaut Township park Friday was a young Boy Scout from Ashtabula County, who quietly watched the tragedy unfold.

John Repasky, 15, is now leading a campaign to improve safety at the lakeside park.

“This happens at least once a year and I think many of us can agree that it needs to stop,” the teen told the council Monday.

The younger Repasky said he and other members of his Boy Scout troop are committed to raising money to purchase warning flags and signs that can be put up at Township Park to alert visitors to dangerous conditions like currents. back.

“In all honesty I was a little disappointed with what I saw, with the lack of warnings and all there was actually, there were anti-liability signs that said ‘swim at your own risk, no lifeguards,’” he told the council.

While the park board ultimately determines policies and procedures at the Conneaut Township park, the Conneaut Town Council president said he supports Repasky’s proposal in the interest of protecting all who visit Lake.

“You know you might not get a rip current warning on one app and you might on the other, that’s why I like the idea of ​​having some type of system warning, a flag system,” Moisio said.

Repasky received a round of applause after telling the council, “If this saves at least one person a year, if there’s just a full year without anyone drowning, that would be a huge success for this community.” »