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Fund set up to assist family of Medina man missing on Lake Erie

Akron Beacon Journal logo Akron Beacon Journal 9/7/2019 By Craig Webb, Akron Beacon Journal

A week has passed since a Medina man set off on a Labor Day weekend fishing trip on Lake Erie and didn't return home.

A fund has been set up to help his wife and three girls financially as they cope with the loss.

Robin Eckelberry, 46, left from a dock near Edgewater Park around 4 a.m. Sunday and was supposed to return by 2 p.m. the same day.

When he failed to return, authorities launched a massive search that included boats and aircraft.

Robin's boat was found about a mile offshore, idling in the water.

The Coast Guard surmises Robin — the sole person on the boat — may have fallen overboard into the rough waters on Lake Erie that day. He was not believed to have been wearing a life jacket.

The formal search was called off Monday night about the same time dozens of friends gathered at Saint Francis Xavier Church in Medina to pray for Robin and his family.

His wife of 20 years, Karen, issued a statement Saturday thanking the community for its support for her and the couple's daughters, Hailey, 18, a freshman at the University of Akron; Hannah, 15, a sophomore at Cloverleaf High School, and Holly, 9, a fourth-grader at Cloverleaf Elementary School. Hailey is an outfielder for the Zips softball team.

"At this time of unspeakable pain for our family, we are thankful for a loving community of family and friends who have surrounded us with love and support," she said. "It has been comforting to know that we're not alone."

Karen said the family is also thankful for the scores of first responders and others who have helped in the search for her husband.

"We'd like to thank the Coast Guard, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Cleveland Metroparks rangers, the Cleveland Police Department and the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Ontario, along with the other first responders and fellow boaters who have worked diligently to bring Robin home," she said. "You'll be forever in our hearts."

Donations for the family may be made at any Key Bank in Northeast Ohio, and marked to the attention of the Robin Eckelberry Fund. Those wishing to contribute by mail can send their donations to: Key Bank, attention Robin Eckelberry Fund, 1090 N. Court St., Medina, OH 44256.

Robin is a superintendent with Independence Excavating.

Family friend Stephen Hamilton, of Medina, said not only is Robin dedicated to his family he is also active in his church community where he has volunteered his time and expertise operating heavy machinery.

"If you know Robin, you understand that he is passionate about all aspects of his life," Hamilton said. "He's an avid outdoorsman, he takes pride in his work and job, and he's his daughters' No. 1 fan. You know of his competitive spirit, his faith in God, and his love for his wife, Karen."

Hamilton said he hopes the community will continue to rally around the family while the search proceeds.

"Robin's zest for life is infectious, and that is why he has the support of so many," Hamilton said. "As Robin would do for others, we ask for you to support the Eckelberry family in their time of need. Whatever you can donate would be greatly appreciated."

Craig Webb can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com.

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©2019 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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