A family member of the young boy who fell into Lake Erie and has been presumed dead by police has identified him as Alexander Ottley.
In a message to The Hamilton Spectator, Stephen Ottley, an uncle, said the family wanted to thank the community for their support. They’re asking for time to grieve.
Rebecca Brunke, organizer of the GoFundMe campaign in Alexander’s honour, wrote that the nine-year-old boy is her cousin’s son.
“Alex was a hero,” Brunke wrote. “It’s an honour to know this brave boy.”
“This brave 9 year old boy tried to save his friend who had fallen through the ice. His friend survived. Today recovery searchers are looking for Alex to recover him.”
At around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, three children were alone on an ice shelf that formed along Lake Erie’s Peacock Point in Nanticoke when a large wave swept Alex and an eight-year-old boy into the frigid waters. They were about 25 feet from the shoreline, according to Haldimand County OPP Const. Rod LeClair.
A 10-year-old girl, Alex’s sister, ran and stopped a passing car. A man and woman got out and were able to rescue the younger boy; LeClair said the man and woman crawled along the edge of the ice shelf and used sticks to save him.
The eight-year-old boy was taken to hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
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Officers immediately began searching the shoreline and the OPP’s underwater rescue team searched for hours.
About four hours in the OPP determined it was no longer a rescue but a recovery effort, LeClair said.
“It’s completely devastating,” LeClair said.
The GoFundMe page was posted on Sunday, just one day after the accident. As of Sunday night, 266 donors had raised $13,570 of an initial $15,000 goal, and the campaign had been shared nearly 4,000 times.
Brunke said the donations are meant to support funeral costs, therapy and anything else the family may need.
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The search was called off Saturday night before 10 p.m., but police went back on Sunday.
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Early Sunday morning, it was determined the ice buildup overnight made it too risky for the underwater search team to go back in.
Some community members have volunteered to help search the shoreline.