Body of 9-year-old Alex Ottley found more than a month after being swept into Lake Erie
'It will bring some closure to family, friends ... and officers,' said Const. Rodney LeClair
Provincial police have located the body of Alex Ottley, more than a month after the nine-year-old was swept into Lake Erie while trying to save one of his friends.
Const. Rod LeClair with the Haldimand County OPP said police were called to Peacock Point around 1 p.m. Tuesday after a resident looking out at the lake through a back window spotted something in the water that "caused them concern."
A helicopter that was helping with another search in the area flew over and confirmed there was something in the water.
"I can confirm for you that we have located and recovered the body of nine-year-old Alex Ottley," LeClair said in a video posted to Twitter.
"On behalf of Ontario Provincial Police, our deepest condolences to the family of Alex and to all of his friends. I know he's dearly missed every day by so many people."
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HaldimandOPP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HaldimandOPP</a> report the body of 9-year-old Alex Ottley has been recovered at Peacock Point in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Nanticoke?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Nanticoke</a> on March 24th.^rl <a href="https://t.co/9gDPiTKDly">pic.twitter.com/9gDPiTKDly</a>—@OPP_WR
Alex was near the edge of the ice at Peacock Point on Feb. 15, along with an eight-year-old friend, when the boys were hit by a wave and pulled into the water, according to police.
Alex's 10-year-old sister ran for help and managed to flag down a car, said LeClair at the time. Two adults helped to rescue the eight-year-old boy from the water — but Alex could not be saved.
A GoFundMe page set up by Rebecca Brunke — the cousin of Alex's mother — described him as "a hero."
Alex tried to save his friend who had fallen through the ice, she said. The eight-year-old boy survived, and police said he is now safe at home.
"I am proud to say Alex was my cousin's son," Brunke wrote. "It's an honour to know this brave boy."
The OPP spent 11 days fighting the elements and probing the icy waters where Alex had disappeared.
That search included aerial efforts, a boat using sonar, divers and multiple sweeps of the shoreline.
"Many days [the weather] hampered our efforts in the water," said LeClair. "The wind conditions, the ice that formed and then broke apart, that hampered our efforts as well. It made things really, really difficult."
A team of volunteers took up the search after police were forced to pull out, and community members also actively took part.
Alex's body has now been transported to the coroner's office in Toronto, said LeClair, who described what happened as a "tragic event."
"We had hoped [for] sooner, but at least we have made a recovery," he added. "It will bring some closure to family, friends, people in the community and officers as well."