Body of missing man at Conestogo Lake recovered by OPP divers

MAPLETON – The body of a man who did not resurface after going under the water at Conestogo Lake on the afternoon of June 13 has been recovered.

Wellington OPP media staffer Kirk MacDonald confirmed the body was recovered by the OPP’s Underwater Search and Recovery Unit at around 8:45pm “near where he was last seen” on June 13.

The next day police identified the deceased man as Matthew Reynold Ottens, 33, of Mapleton.

A call for help from emergency services came in at 12:20pm, with Mapleton Fire Rescue, Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service and Centre Wellington Fire and Rescue, along with Ornge air ambulance, being dispatched.

“Initial investigation is that a group of family members were swimming off a boat in the lake and an adult male went under the water and did not surface,” Wellington OPP media staffer Kirk MacDonald told the Advertiser from the scene on Sunday.

He added, “It’s obviously [a] difficult situation for the family and others that have witnessed it.”

In a later press release MacDonald explained the man jumped in to assist a child. Witnesses helped pull the child back onto the boat but the man failed to resurface.

Emergency services spent several hours searching for the missing man from boats and from the air.

The Advertiser observed several boats belonging to fire services and the OPP searching the southeast edge of the lake sandwiched between the Conestogo Lake Conservation Area and cottages across the water, where the lake water empties at the Conestogo Dam.

Centre Wellington Fire and Rescue Services deputy fire chief Jonathan Karn said fire fighters had two drones search the water’s surface, but to no avail.

An OPP helicopter also briefly appeared, flying low in gusting wind to search the water from above, yielding no results.

Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service commander Kerri Mitchell confirmed two ambulances and a supervisor were dispatched to the scene along with a call to Ornge air ambulance.

“[Ornge] came and did a flyover to see if they could see the patient by chance in the lake and had no success and cleared the scene,” Mitchell said.

“It’s a terrible, tragic situation, a very sad call and everybody seems to be doing well, just trying to support family and support the first responders on scene at this point in time,” Mitchell said of the crew who remained at the scene Sunday.