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Bodies found likely are missing kayakers

– Two bodies spotted in Lake Erie only hours apart on Friday by two different fishermen appear to be those of a father and his 12-year-old daughter who disappeared after leaving on a short kayaking trip this month, authorities said.

The bodies were found several miles from each other, said Jared Oliver, chief deputy with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. One was in the lake’s open waters about 6 miles offshore, the other in the water near Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky.

Viola Francis and her 30-year-old father, Jonathan Francis, left for a short kayak trip on Sandusky Bay on April 6, but they never came home, family members and authorities said.

Francis’ girlfriend said the weather was mild when the pair left a few hours before sunset. Two empty kayaks were found the next day.

The body of what is believed to be the girl was found Friday morning about 6 miles northeast of the city of Huron. A coroner and sheriff’s officials said they think it’s the missing girl based on her clothing and jewelry.

The second body was found Friday afternoon. The sheriff’s office tentatively identified that body as Jonathan Francis of Sandusky.

Autopsies are planned.

Both were found several miles from where the father and daughter had planned to kayak.

Members of the Erie County sheriff’s dive team continued to search both sides of the bay until last week.