Missing Australian backpacker found in icy lake

HUMAN remains in a partially frozen lake have been discovered in the case of a missing 25-year-old Australian backpacker who disappeared from a ski resort in Canada.

Perth woman Alison Leanne Raspa's remains were found in Whistler, British Columbia, after she went missing in November last year. During the case police released desperate texts to friends indicating Ms Raspa, who was working in a hotel in the popular ski resort at the time, had become lost.

In a news release, Whistler RCMP confirmed Ms Raspa's body was discovered at Alpha Lake Park, a lake park with docks and a sand beach, located 5km south of Whistler Village.

"Whistler RCMP, Whistler Fire Rescue and the BC Coroners Service attended and confirmed found human remains at the north end of the partially frozen Alpha Lake," it said.

The RCMP was closed overnight but a statement said a bystander "called police on Friday to say they'd found what appeared to be human remains in the partially frozen lake" at around 7.30pm.

They were later identified as that of Ms Raspa.

Ms Raspa was last seen leaving the Three Below Restaurant and Lounge in Whistler Village at 11.30pm on Wednesday, November 22.

Ms Raspa caught a bus after leaving the bar and ended up in Alpha Lake Park. She sent a text to friends at approximately 1.15am reporting she was lost.

RCMP Whistler Staff Sergeant Paul Hayes told news.com.au in December the messages sent from Ms Raspa's mobile phones stated she was lost. 

Statement from police regarding Alison Raspa's death.
Statement from police regarding Alison Raspa's death.

"She spoke with a friend in the Village Stroll area and later investigators believe Ms Raspa may have taken public transport to an area near Highway 99 and Lake Placid Road (before) walking west toward Alpha Lake," Sgt Hayes said.

"At approximately 1.15am, Ms Raspa texted some of her friends to confirm she was lost.

"A citizen found a jacket, backpack and wallet belonging to Ms Raspa. These items were found near Highway 99 and Lake Placid Road.

"Her cell phone was located by another citizen in Alpha Lake Park."

The next day, police found some of her personal belongings, understood to include a mobile phone, 5km away at Alpha Lake Park at Creekside Village. News.com.au understands Ms Raspa's backpack was also located.

Alison Raspa was last seen about 11.30pm leaving the Three Below Bar in Whistler and an item belonging to her was later found at Alpha Lake Park.
Alison Raspa was last seen about 11.30pm leaving the Three Below Bar in Whistler and an item belonging to her was later found at Alpha Lake Park.

Rescue workers and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) divers equipped with sonar technology searched the lake and surrounding areas but failed to find any further trace of her at the time, it was reported.

Sgt Hayes said police had so far been unable to determine why Ms Raspa had discarded her belongings but there has been speculation in the Canadian press that the young Aussie may have been suffering from hypothermia in the below freezing temperatures.

Ms Raspa's devastated brother, accompanied by a woman believed to be the siblings' mother, flew into the world-famous resort in December to join locals in a massive search effort.

Police say a cause of death has not been confirmed, but the death does not appear to be suspicious.

Whistler RCMP Staff Sergeant Paul Hayes told news.com.au in December that police search efforts would continue to focus on Alpha Lake Park, its shoreline and the surrounding areas.

"Some of the things that we have found have led us to the Alpha Lake area and we are trying our best at this point to put that timeline together to see if we can go anywhere else," he said.

"We are bringing in divers again, we are bringing in helicopters when the weather will allow, we are doing ground searches with friends and with search and rescue.

"We are hoping the public can advise us of anything that they have seen."

Ms Raspa's family in Australia has been notified.

- Anyone with more information is asked to contact Whistler RCMP


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