Daughter mourns 'bubbly and lively' hunters found dead in Lake Winnipeg

The daughter of one of two hunters who died while on a hunting trip in central Manitoba says they will both be truly missed.

2 men hadn't been seen since Sunday afternoon south of Grand Rapids

Francis Richard, left, and his cousin Ernie Welburn were found dead in the water of Lake Winnipeg near Grand Rapids. (Tara Welburn/Facebook)

The daughter of one of the two hunters who died while on a hunting trip in central Manitoba says they will both be truly missed.

"They were both really fun loving and bubbly and lively. They were very fun to be around. It's just a shock to all of us to lose them," said Angela Richard.

Richard's dad, Francis Richard, 60, and his cousin Ernie Welburn, 73, were found together in the waters of Lake Winnipeg, southeast of Grand Rapids. Searchers in a helicopter spotted them around 1 p.m. Tuesday, RCMP said in a news release.

Due to the remote location, it took time to reach them and confirm their identities, police said.

The two men were part of a larger group hunting in the Grand Rapids area, about 400 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, on the northwestern shore of the lake. They had been camping at Long Point, just south of Grand Rapids, when the two left to go out on all-terrain vehicles Sunday afternoon, RCMP said.

Angela Richard says it appears that at some point, they both got on one of the ATVs and left the other parked along the shore. Richard believes that the ground likely gave way, causing them to fall into the water.

"It goes a lot deeper, like almost instantly in some places. They're assuming the ATV kind of went into that shelf and went right to the bottom — this is what caused them to drown," she said.

A 'gentle giant'

When they failed to return, the RCMP were contacted. Ground and air search teams had been looking since Monday and found one of the ATVs, but no sign of the men.

RCMP said the deaths do not appear suspicious.

The second ATV has not been located but is believed to be in the water.

Richard said her dad was an avid outdoorsman who hunted her entire life. He was from Camperville, Man., but the family lived in Churchill for many years. Richard has memories of her dad going on hunting trips when she was a child.

She called her dad a "gentle giant" who "had a big heart."

"He kind of had a dry sense of humour, you know, the kind of jokes that he got," she said.

Richard says Welburn was a close member of her family. "He was a really great guy," she said.

"I'd just like to thank everybody who put in the efforts to find them and did bring them home to us."

Richard's family is in the process of planning a funeral.

With files from Cameron MacLean