A man whose body was found Monday under the ice of Salmon Lake in North Belgrade has been identified officially as Derek Palange, who was reported missing Jan. 11.

The Maine Warden Service announced the identification in a news release Tuesday afternoon. On Monday, after Palange’s body was recovered, wardens said it was likely Palange, 40, of North Belgrade, who was last seen the night of Jan. 9 when he left his home on his three-wheel all-terrain vehicle.

“Preliminary results indicate Palange died from drowning when his ATV entered open water on Salmon Lake” on Jan. 9, the news release from Cpl. John MacDonald said Tuesday.

A GoFundMe page, which was set up to raise money for his cremation and “a small service,” had reached its $1,500 goal by Tuesday afternoon, including an anonymous donation of $1,000.

“Derek grew up in Sabattus and went to school there,” the page says. “He did not have much, but he cherished his kids, family and friends.” According to the page, Palange had three children and attended Oak Hill High School in Wales.

A memorial page on Facebook also has been set up, In Loving Memory of Derek Palange.

Fisherman Keith Cole, of Oakland, said Monday that his 10-year-old nephew first spotted the wheels of the ATV protruding from lake ice about noon Sunday near the boat landing off Spaulding Point Road. When Cole realized what they were, he called the warden service. The boat launch is at the southern end of Salmon Lake, near the intersection of routes 8 and 11, an area of the lake that also is known as Ellis Pond.

Wardens first cut the Yamaha three-wheeler out of the ice Monday morning. In addition to the ATV, a pair of boots was found frozen into the ice about 35 feet from the ATV. Palange’s body was pulled from under the lake ice about 10:40 a.m., and the recovery was made in 28 feet of water.

While the ATV found Monday matched the yellow Yamaha that Palange owned, the warden service was waiting for an official identification from the state medical examiner’s office before releasing more information, MacDonald said. Palange is pictured on Facebook with his Yamaha ATV, identical to the one the wardens cut from the ice Monday.

Warden Sgt. Terry Hughes said Monday the service conducted an airplane flyover of the area after Palange was reported missing, but it didn’t spot anything. The lake was covered with a layer of black ice at the time, he added.

Although wardens do not know for sure how the ATV went into the lake, Game Warden Ethan Buuck said Monday that the ice on Salmon Lake was dangerously thin at the time Palange disappeared. Ice was slow to develop this winter and in many places was still too thin to take a vehicle on it in early January. “The ice definitely was not safe at the time this individual went missing,” Buuck said.

The ice on the lake was about 6 inches thick Monday. The warden service website suggests ice of at least 5 inches for ATV travel, but also warns that thaws and freezes can make ice unstable.

“The ice always, no matter what time of the year, is a questionable thing,” Buuck said.

At 7 p.m. Monday night, the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which oversees the Maine Warden Service, tweeted a December 2014 website post warning of ice danger. The post includes tips on how to tell if the ice is safe and how to be safe when walking, fishing or driving on the ice, which it discourages.

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