The deaths of Gary Schellenberg and his 14-year-old son Evan in a snowmobile crash over the weekend have come as a "big shock" to their family, which is now having to organize two funerals.
Schellenberg, 49, and Evan were killed Sunday morning when their snowmobiles collided head-on at English Lake, about 165 kilometres north of Winnipeg and northeast of Manigotagan.
"Mostly disbelief; it's quite a shock," Wayne Schellenberg, Gary's brother and Evan's uncle, said in an interview late Monday.
"You don't ever expect to get a phone call in the middle of the night saying one of your brothers has died. It took a little while to sink in."
Wayne Schellenberg said his brother had purchased a cabin near English Lake a couple years ago and the family enjoyed spending time there.
"He's a fun-loving guy. He did live life to the fullest. His children were pretty much everything to him," he said.
As for what happened on Sunday night, Schellenberg said Gary and Evan were on separate snowmobiles, but the family has not received much information.
"All we know is that there was a head-on collision," he said.
"We don't know if it was in the bush or if it was in the dark. They were in the dark, obviously, but we don't know, there's just no details coming in."
'Absolute disbelief,' says mayor
The fatal collision has also stunned people in the community of West St. Paul, just north of Winnipeg, where the father and son were from.
"It's absolute disbelief. Tragedy. We have lost two very important members of our community," said Mayor Bruce Henley. "It's just a big hole in the community today with the loss of Gary and Evan.
"It's a very sad day. You know, we are in mourning along with the family."
Henley's son was good friends with Evan, whom Henley described as "happy-go-lucky" and "very positive." The two boys grew up together, attended the same birthday parties and were in class together at West Kildonan Collegiate.
Both Henley and Wayne Schellenberg called Gary a "Mr. Fix-It" who would help anyone in need.
Now the community wants to return the favour.
"I spoke with [town] administration this morning and called the family. I offered up our centre for any services they want to hold," Henley said.
"They are deep in the grieving process and as a community, we will do what we can to help this family out.
"Unless you have been exposed to it yourself, to really understand where the family is with something like this, you have no idea. All we can do is pray for the family and do all we can as a community."
GoFundMe page started
A GoFundMe fundraising page has also been launched to help the family deal with the funeral costs.
"Gary leaves behind his wife, Linda, two sons, one daughter and two foster children — the youngest being three," the page states.
"This loss has devastated the family. We are hoping to raise funds to help with funeral costs, etc. Your prayers would also be appreciated."
Wayne Schellenberg said his brother was the sole earner in his family.
"Linda was a stay-at-home mom looking after the children, and there's not going to be a paycheque anymore," he said. "So it's going to be a double funeral; it's a big shock to the family."
Henley said he has spoken to Linda, and she's grateful for the support.
"It was a tough conversation to have," he said.