This is so sad. But it happens every winter here to snowmobilers.

Divers Recover Bodies of Both Missing Snowmobilers
Updated: Jan 12, 2010 6:08 PM CST
By Chris Hrapsky

After two days in the frigid water of Lake Winnebago, the search for two missing Appleton snowmobilers is now finished.

"A little after 11 o'clock this morning, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office did recover a second body off of Jefferson Park," Lieutenant Todd Christie confirmed Tuesday.

Search crews spent the last few days looking for 30-year-old Keith Ebben and 29-year-old Jay Luniak.

The two snowmobilers from Appleton disappeared Saturday night after stopping at a Neenah restaurant.

Earlier Tuesday morning, authorities positively identified the body found Monday to be Ebben, and around 3 o'clock, after the family was notified, they confirmed Luniak's body as well.

While family and friends stood by at Jefferson Park in Menasha, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office dive team took two air boats back out on to the water around nine o'clock Tuesday morning to resume their search for Luniak.

"It's a very large area of water where we are searching with some rigid terrain on the bottom," Lt. Christie said.

Officials say the ice line with the snowmobilers' tracks receded about 50 yards overnight, making their search more challenging.

Christie says underwater cameras were used during the search Tuesday, and he said when the sun came out they were able to see through the water, helping to aid in the search.

"A lot of the search pattern... is in some pretty shallow water off of Buoy 100, and with the divers in the boats that definitely helps increase visibility," Christie said.

About two hours into the search, dive crews located two snowmobiles and Luniak's body in an area close to where Ebben's body was found a day earlier.

"Approximately, yes," Christie said. "Not exactly in the same location but in the vicinity, I guess, would be the best way to say it. The second body was found near each of the snowmobiles."

Luniak's body was taken to the Winnebago County coroner's office.

County officials have determined the two men drove into open water, attempted to save themselves, but couldn't due to the elements.

"It appears to be a very unfortunate situation that occurred," Lt. Christie said.

The sunken snowmobiles were left behind and may be pulled out on Wednesday.

"The snowmobiles will be retrieved at a later time. They have been marked with GPS coordinates to make that an easier operation," Christie said.