Law enforcement boats plied the south end of the Great Sacandaga Lake on Monday, searching for two Broadalbin fishermen who went missing over the weekend.
Father and son Mark and Brent Richards, aged 51 and 24, went fishing Saturday morning. They parked near Macvean Road just off Lakeview Road, launching their 8- or 10-foot, flat-bottom jon boat just down the shore from the state-run Broadalbin boat launch.
When the two did not return home at the end of the day, a family member reported them missing. The vehicle was recovered and a search effort launched.
The shoreline was scoured Sunday, but according to Fulton County Undersheriff Kevin Lenahan, very little was found. “A bait box and some bobbers were floating near shore,” he said, pointing out such things would likely have been in the boat.
A larger effort commenced Monday morning with three state police and Department of Environmental Conservation boats cruising the immediate vicinity with side-scan sonar devices.
Afternoon saw the Broadalbin public boat launch clogged with police vehicles, but nothing new to report. One state police scuba diver ate a slice of pizza while waiting to get a call from the crews out on the water.
Two EMTs napped on stretchers in an ambulance, awaiting the same call.
“There’s not much we can do at this point,” Lenahan said.
The boats searched, covering as much area as possible. Even so, the three sonar-equipped boats mapped only a fraction of the Great Sacandaga’s 40-square-mile bed.
“They’re telling me there’s nothing in this bay,” Lenahan said. “We’ll have to expand our search.”
Private boat owners didn’t have much luck, either. Monday morning, local resident B.J. Henry took his pedal kayak five miles up and down the shore from the Richards’ launch site.
“All I found was a boat fender,” he said, “and I don’t know if it was from their boat.”
The whole thing seemed puzzling to him. Henry, who lives on the lake, said while it can get dicey in high winds, Saturday was calm.
As of late Monday afternoon, neither victim had been recovered and the jon boat was still missing.
Lenahan said it might be some time before anything is recovered. The search boats have to travel at idling speeds for the sonar mapping system to work, a process one state trooper likened to watching paint dry.
Also, drowning victims tend to float to the surface as decomposition commences, a process that will likely be slowed by the Sacandaga’s cool water.
“We’ll definitely be here tomorrow,” Lenahan said. “After that, I don’t know.”