Cold hampers search at lake for missing snowmobiler

Mounties say cold weather is hampering a search for a snowmobiler who fell through thin ice on a lake northwest of Edmonton.

SANDY BEACH — Mounties say cold weather is hampering a search for a snowmobiler who fell through thin ice on a lake northwest of Edmonton.

RCMP Const. Brandan DeBow says the ice is continuing to form and thicken due to temperatures below zero, making it difficult for divers and searchers to find Shane Verbeek.

The 30-year-old man was last seen heading out onto the thin ice on Sandy Beach Lake around midnight Sunday and hasn’t been seen since.

Louis Verbeek says his son was an experienced snowmobiler but he set off on the ice a little too early this year.

The Verbeek family is dealing with the second all-terrain vehicle tragedy in less than three months — a nephew was killed in a quad accident this summer.

Snowmobile instructors say it’s still too early for people to be driving their snowmoblies on bodies of water.

“December, I’ll be looking at ice thicknesses, but I wouldn’t even get on the ice until December,” said instructor Rudi Haak.

Rescue crews have been joined by both family and friends who are all working tirelessly to find Verbeek.

“We have family members that have committed their time to assist and we also have members of the community that have donated their boats, their time, any gear,” said DeBow.

Verbeek says the turnout from both family and friends has left him deeply touched, providing him with support at a time when he realizes he may never see his son again.

“He enjoyed life and if he had to go and he went this way, well he’s happy,” said Verbeek. “He was doing something he liked.”

Rescue crews will continue to search throughout the daylight hours.