Norwalk teen drowns

Cary Ashby • Oct 10, 2013 at 10:07 PM

An autopsy is scheduled for today following the apparent drowning of a Norwalk teenager in the Huron River when he was test-driving a boat Wednesday afternoon.

Jeffrey P. Warneck II, 18, of Oakwood Drive, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“There were no vital signs when we arrived,” said Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth, whose deputies arrived at 2:48 p.m. “(There were) no signs of trauma — no signs of foul play.

“The young man was at his grandfather’s house on (Ohio) 13 in Milan Township,” he said.

The house borders the Huron River. Sigsworth said Warneck and his grandfather had changed the battery on the trolling motor of a boat and Warneck wanted to test-drive the boat before a fishing trip that evening.

“He went to take the boat out for a test (drive). He told the grandpa he was going to go out,” the sheriff said.

After a delay in hearing from his grandson, the man started looking for him. Sigsworth said the grandfather found Warneck "laying across the submerged stern of the boat," which was “right off the back door and down the bank.”

“The boat was back at the bank,” he said. “Grandpa estimated (his grandson) was gone 30 to 45 minutes before he discovered him.”

Deputies interviewed Warneck’s family. Sigsworth said the victim, who visited his grandfather’s home “quite regularly,” had an underlying medical condition, which may have been a factor. The sheriff declined to elaborate.

There was a slow-running current in the river Wednesday afternoon. Sigsworth said it’s possible Warneck ended up in the water after he came into shore and was in the process of docking the boat.

The sheriff’s office was called at 2:37 p.m. and arrived 11 minutes later. North Central EMS and the Milan Township Fire Department also responded to the scene.

"They got there a short time after we did,” Sigsworth said.

Erie County Coroner Dr. Brian Baxter ordered Warneck’s body be transported to Foster Funeral Home in Huron. A spokeswoman with the Lucas County Coroner’s officer said an autopsy was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Warneck graduated in June from Norwalk High School. As a junior and senior, he studied construction technology at EHOVE Career Center.

“He was a nice kid. He was quiet,” said NHS Principal Brad Cooley, who remembered that Warneck’s goal was work hard and have good enough grades and attendance to go to EHOVE.

In July 2012, Warneck was one of seven EHOVE students to attend the SkillsUSA Summer Leadership Conference at Hocking College in Nelsonville. He also was an honor roll student.

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