Dean Sheldon 2010-08-13

Anaktuvuk Pass: Man dies skimming snowmachine across lake

Posted by thevillage, Posted: August 16, 2010

A 40-year-old man died Friday in Anaktuvuk Pass while attempting to skip a snowmachine across a local lake, say North Slope Borough police.

Dean Sheldon had been skimming a white Yamaha across Eleanor Lake and was about 40 feet from shore when the snowmachine sank and Sheldon yelled for help, said borough police officer John Datta.

Several children watched the accident, which was reported around 10:30 p.m. Friday. Datta said he and another man waded into the lake and dove after Sheldon, but couldn’t find him or the snowmachine.

A dive team recovered the body Sunday afternoon after a weekend search that included much of the village, Datta said. Sheldon was discovered about 70 feet from shore in roughly 10 feet of water, he said.

“That cold water, it makes your muscles cramp up,” Datta said. “This is just a tragic accident.”

The police officer said he had talked to Sheldon hours before the drowning. The father of seven was talking about working on his snowmachine and taking his kids hunting over the weekend, Datta said. Sheldon was not wearing a flotation device. Alcohol is not a factor in the accident, he said.

Many of Sheldon’s relatives have since arrived in the Brooks Range village from Shungnak, he said, and the police department wanted to offer its condolences to Sheldon’s friends and family.

“There’s a lot of people in town right now that are grieving,” Datta said.