A joyride on a barely frozen lake likely ended Shane Verbeek’s life, family members said yesterday, though neither he nor a snowmobile he was riding have been recovered.
“The headlights just disappeared,” said a family member who asked to remain anonymous.
The 30-year-old was on his way home from a work party shortly after midnight Sunday when he and a friend stopped for a ride on Sandy Beach lake, about 50 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
“The thing is, they were drinking,” the relative said. “You know how you drink and think you’re invincible? He probably got stuck and disoriented and swam down instead of up.”
Rescue crews scoured the area Sunday and until sundown yesterday, both underwater and on land.
Fresh tracks led searchers north from the lakeshore, Northern Alberta Aquatic Rescue Society volunteer Cliff Vergunde said.
“After the tracks disappeared, it’s hard to say where to look,” he said, adding crews canvassed a 300-yard radius around the end of the tracks.
The ice on the shallow lake was two centimetres thick when Verbeek disappeared, he added.
“It becomes a safety issue when your divers are going to fall through the ice — you don’t want to lose anyone else,” he said.
“He could be anywhere in that lake. When it gets to that point, it’s almost impossible to search the entire lake.”