Rescue workers search Sunday for a Smithfield man after the utility task vehicle he was driving with three others aboard broke through the ice on North Pond. Rescuers later found the submerged body of Jeremiah Meader, 42. Photo provided by Maine Warden Service

A 42-year-old Smithfield man died early Sunday morning in North Pond when the utility task vehicle he was driving home from a friend’s house broke through two inches of gray ice about a quarter mile from shore, according to the Maine Warden Service.

Divers found the body of Jeremiah Meader at 1:20 p.m. in about 8 feet of water in the area where his 2020 Yamaha utility task vehicle broke through the ice, according to service officials. His body was transported to Dan & Scott Funeral Home.

Broken ice and open water show where a utility task vehicle broke through the ice early Sunday on North Pond in Smithfield. Photo provided by Maine Warden Service

“Ice conditions vary greatly across the state, and everyone needs to check the ice before heading out,” said warden Sgt. Josh Bubier. “While in some areas, the ice may be thick enough, in other areas, it can be dangerously thin.”

North Pond is a shallow, weedy pond in the Belgrade Lakes system that is favored by bass fishermen in the warmer months and snowmobilers and ice fishermen in the winter. It is about a half-hour’s drive northwest of Waterville.

Meader’s wife and two friends got out of the vehicle before it completely broke through the ice, but Meader was unable to and was still in the vehicle when it sank, officials said. One of Meader’s friends dove into the icy water in an unsuccessful attempt to save Meader.

The survivors tried to find their way home, but couldn’t find their way off the ice because of heavy fog and darkness. They were rescued by emergency crews at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Meader’s two friends were treated for hypothermia and released; his wife was taken to the hospital with hypothermia and released Sunday morning.

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