OPP end search for body of 9-year-old Alex Ottley

After 11 days trying to find the body of 9-year-old boy Alex Ottley in Lake Erie, Ontario Provincial Police say they have called off their search.

Const. Rodney Leclair, a media relations officer with the OPP, says it was an "extremely difficult decision."

He said "we've searched an extensive portion of the lake and shoreline and it is unknown, at this time, where the body may have gone to."

"We worked the area for 11 days and the weather affected efforts during that time. The decision is discontinue was extremely difficult as we really wanted to make a recovery to give the family a little bit of closure."

The police service says periodic aerial and shoreline searches will continue in the future.

Ottley, 9, and an eight-year-old boy were sitting on an ice platform on Feb. 15 at Peacock Point, a town 60 kilometres south of Hamilton when a wave swallowed the younger boy, knocking him off the ledge and into the water.

Leclair says Alex tried to save his friend when a wave came but the wave swept him in.

Police exhausted their resources, drawing in icebreakers, drones from locals and helicopters from the OPP and the U.S. Coast Guard — all amid "dangerous" conditions in the water. 

Their most recent efforts included shorelines searches, divers and boats with sonar scanners.

A GoFundMe set up for Alex's family has raised more than $18,000 as of Wednesday morning.