Nova Scotia

Body found in Cape Breton lake that of missing skier, friends say

A body recovered Monday morning from Waterford Lake is believed to be that of 48-year-old Debbie Lee Pearson of New Victoria, N.S., who had been missing since Saturday.

48-year-old woman from New Victoria reported missing Saturday evening

Debbie Lee Pearson was an avid skier and an advocate of heritage structures, including the Low Point lighthouse. (CBC)

A body recovered Monday morning from Waterford Lake in Cape Breton is that of a woman missing since Saturday, the woman's friends confirmed.

The 48-year-old woman from New Victoria was reported missing around 9 p.m. Saturday after failing to return from a cross-country skiing outing.

Friends identified the victim as Debbie Lee Pearson, an advocate for saving heritage structures in her community, such as the Low Point lighthouse and the Stone Church.

"She just loved life," remembered Melanie Sampson, the president of the Stone Church Preservation Society.

"She was so outgoing — always a smile, a chuckle, a kind word to say. She was just a wonderful person and she'll be greatly missed within our community."

'An accidental tragedy'

Police Staff Sgt. Ken O'Neill calls the death "an accidental tragedy."

"Unfortunately, today we have a tragedy of an individual who, we understand, (was) an avid skier and was doing what she loved," he said shortly after the body was recovered. "She loved to ski and was known in this area to ski frequently."

O'Neill said it's not clear how Pearson ended up in the water.

"We weren't there. We don't know the total circumstances," he said. "But when you're going from daylight and in the evening, when it gets dark, darkness comes upon us quickly, and if you're in those type of athletic circumstances, you have to be cautioned to that."

O'Neill said an unspecified technology volunteered by a member of the public was instrumental in helping narrow the search area.

A medical examiner will identify the remains, O'Neill said.

With files from Gary Mansfield