BROADALBIN - Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said today it's possible the two Broadalbin men reported missing from a fishing trip Saturday on the Great Sacandaga Lake may be alive and left the area voluntarily.
"We're checking to see if they are somewhere else," Lorey said.
Meanwhile, he said, the search by the Sheriff's Department for father and son Mark and Brent Richards, of 245 Hatzenbuhler Road, will continue today and over the Memorial Day weekend, but it will be "scaled back" with "spot checks."
The men and their 8- to 10-foot boat remain missing, authorities said.
Mark Richards, 51, and Brent Richards, 24, were reported missing Sunday by their family after they failed to return from fishing on the lake Saturday. The two parked their vehicle on MacVean Road on Saturday morning - about two miles from their home - and launched their small boat. The pair's vehicle was found on MacVean Road, and items that would have been in their boat were found floating near shore.
Undersheriff Kevin Lenahan said earlier this week the two men had not been drinking alcohol before their disappearance.
The sheriff's office has been assisted by state police divers combing an area of the Great Sacandaga Lake near the Broadalbin Boat Launch off Lakeview Road to determine if the men drowned.
Lorey said there's much about this case that seems somewhat illogical.
"It's unusual to search the large amount of area that we have, using sophisticated equipment, and not find some evidence," the sheriff said.
He said the state police have assisted with a camera system that should have found something by now. He said the investigation early on turned up some fishing tackle but nothing else. Meanwhile, he said the temperature of the lake is about 50 degrees and it could take up to a couple weeks for any bodies to rise to the surface.
Lorey said that as of today, "as far as we know," neither of the Richards men has contacted family members.
He said the investigation has entered another phase of checking the paper trail of the men - such as bank records and credit cards - to determine if they are still alive and have moved out of the area.
Anyone from the public with any information about the disappearance of Mark and Brent Richards, or those who find something near the scene, are asked to contact the Sheriff's Department at 736-2100. All calls will be kept confidential.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.