FRENCHTOWN TWP. (WWJ) – Authorities will continue searching Thursday for a 40-year-old man who disappeared when his ATV went through the ice on Lake Erie.

Officials say the man was riding a four-wheeler less than a half-mile from shore near Stoney Point Peninsula in Frenchtown Township when the vehicle broke through the ice around 9 p.m. Wednesday.

First responders discovered an open area of the ice 12 feet in diameter in the area where the victim was reported to have gone missing. The U.S. Coast Guard also responded to the scene but a search was temporarily suspended due in part to unstable ice.

Dan Bondy identified the victim as his oldest son, Derek.

“He made some very bad decisions last night to be out here on a heavy piece of machine on bad ice,” Dan Bondy told WWJ’s Mike Campbell. “We were very close. In fact, he texted Brent (his brother) yesterday and said that we were like best friends. So me and my son here, we lost not just a son and a brother but a best friend also.”

Even though it’s not an official recovery effort yet, Colin Bondy, Derek’s uncle, said the family is preparing for the expected loss.

“Well, we’ll probably talk about him a lot,” he said through tears. “We’ll laugh about it and cry about it.”

The incident happened the same day the Coast Guard issued a warning about potentially unstable ice on the Great Lakes as temperatures warmed following a recent stretch of bitter cold.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at 734-240-7530.

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