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Missing fisher's body recovered
DECEMBER 12 2011 01:00 AM -0600
The family of a man missing and presumed drowned after his snowmobile plunged through the ice on Lake Winnipegosis identified him Sunday as commercial fisherman Monte Menard from Dauphin.

Menard's body was recovered by late Sunday afternoon, a family member said.

The Mounties did not confirm the name of the 48-year-old man Sunday, nor would they say his body had been recovered.

A 38-year-old woman with the man when the snowmobile fell through the ice survived the ordeal, RCMP reported Sunday.

She was rescued by local emergency crews after she spent several hours in the frigid water, and was taken to hospital for treatment of exposure.

Menard's life was marked by tragedy, a relative said.

"Him and his wife lost three children in a fire and I think one boy survived. After the death of their children they divorced. It's all very upsetting," the relative said.

The snowmobile went through the ice about 13 kilometres from the shore of Lake Winnipegosis, RCMP confirmed.

Rescuers were dispatched from Winnipegosis, 380 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, which meant they mounted a mission in the dark, crossing stretches of thin ice to reach the site.

News of the tragedy was still sinking in Sunday in the northern fishing village.

"Maybe they hit a spot that wasn't that good," said Rose Fleming, who with her husband Clarence runs the family-owned Lakeside Fisheries, a local facility that takes in the catches of commercial fishermen.

The Menard family had resumed fishing this year after being away from the commercial fisheries, Fleming said.

"They hadn't fished in a couple of years but this year they decided to," said Fleming. So far the fisheries facility recorded at least a couple of days' catch from the father and son, recorded in the name of the father's licence.

The son also had a commercial fishing licence, Fleming said. It's common practice for families with more than one licence to divide their catches among the licences they hold, she said.

Fleming said she believed the Menard family has a house somewhere north of Winnipegosis, but she thought most days they drove the 60 kilometres from their Dauphin homes to reach the lake by morning. Then they headed out on their snowmobiles for a day's fishing, always returning by dark, she said.

She said she was aware Menard was out fishing on the lake Saturday and that he didn't come back after dark.

Meanwhile, family in Dauphin confirmed the missing fisherman was Menard and they said they believed the woman with him may have been his girlfriend.

"They found Monte," said one relative late Sunday afternoon. She did not want her name made public.

Late Sunday, a relative in Winnipeg confirmed Menard's identity, saying that she'd had a call Sunday to inform her of the tragedy.

"They got word early this morning that Monte was dead. It's very sad," the woman said.

The RCMP Underwater Recovery Team was reported headed to the site Sunday to assist in the recovery.

The man's father and mother were at their Dauphin home Sunday night but they could not be reached for comment.

This year fishing has been hard, partly due to a long mild fall and a late freeze-up.

"It's been a terrible freeze-up but you know fishermen: They'll go out anyway," Fleming said.
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