A man is dead after the ATV he was driving out on a pond in Smithfield, Maine, with his wife and two others crashed through the ice shortly after the clock struck midnight.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says Jeremiah Meader, 42, was driving a side-by-side ATV across North Pond in Smithfield around 1 a.m. on New Year's Day when the vehicle broke through the ice as the group of four was returning home after leaving a friend's house, NBC affiliate News Center Maine reported.
The ATV's three passengers were able to get out of the vehicle before it became fully submerged, but Meader wasn't able to, officials said, according to News Center Maine.
One of the passengers attempted to recover Meader shortly after the incident but was unsuccessful. Maine game wardens later recovered Meader's body but it wasn't until about 12 hours later.
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"Extreme fog and darkness" prevented the three adults from finding their way off the ice, and they were rescued by emergency first responders around 2:30 a.m., News Center Maine reported. All three were treated at the hospital for hypothermia but were later released.
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Numerous agencies were involved in the search for Meader, including Maine Warden divers, the Smithfield Fire Department, the Rome Fire Department, the Belgrade Fire Department, the Norridgewock Fire Department, the Oakland Fire Department, the Skowhegan Fire Department, and Delta Ambulance.
His body was located around 1:20 p.m., about a quarter mile from the shore, News Center Maine reported.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is urging caution and awareness about ice conditions.
"Ice conditions vary greatly across the state, and everyone needs to check the ice before heading out," Game Warden Sgt. Josh Bubier told News Center Maine. "While in some areas, the ice may be thick enough, in other areas, it can be dangerously thin."
Just because winter weather is here, doesn't mean that the ice is safe, the agency said on Facebook. People are urged to avoid accessing lakes and ponds unless they are certain of ice conditions by checking the thickness for themselves. Remember that ice seldom freezes uniformly and conditions are always changing and can vary from one location to the next.