Missing Backroad Anthem Singer Craig Strickland Found Dead
An Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokesperson confirmed to People that the body of the 29-year-old was recovered in an area of Kaw Lake known as Bear Creek Cove. According to tweets from 40/29 News' Pedro Rivera, Strickland's body was found just north of where his capsized boat was discovered on Dec. 28, near the shoreline. An Instagram post from Strickland's wife, Helen Strickland, reveals that the artist had made it out of the lake after his boat capsized.
"The night of the accident, he had fought his way out of the water and up a hill before the stages of hypothermia set in. He experienced no pain in his final moments and simply felt like he was falling asleep," she explains. "The found him lying in the shape of a cross looking up to his Father."
Search and rescue teams — including members in the air, on land and in sonar-equipped boats — had been searching a two-mile area of Kaw Lake in Kay County, Okla., where Strickland, his also-deceased friend Chase Morland, 22, and Strickland’s dog Sam went for a duck hunt early on Dec. 27, despite severe weather conditions. (Evidence suggests that they likely never got an opportunity to begin their hunt.) The search began after Strickland and Morland failed to make contact with their families for 24 hours. On Dec. 31, search crews discovered footprints, boat marks and dog prints that helped them narrow their search area.
Morland’s body was recovered on the afternoon of Dec. 28, with Sam found, alive, next to his body; Rivera reports that Strickland's body was discovered about 75 yards from that area. According to 40/29 News, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's office determined Morland's cause of death to be drowning and exposure to freezing temperatures, while the Oklahoma Highway Patrol says that Strickland's death was likely caused by hypothermia; however, full autopsy reports will not be available for 4-8 weeks.
"Thank you to every single person who prayed for him and our family during this time. There was not a more peaceful way for him to go into the arms of our Lord, and I know your prayers had a role in making that happen," Helen Strickland continues. "I know he saw Jesus at that moment when he laid down and walked arm in arm with Him into a better Everlasting Life."
For friends and fans looking for a way to help out, a GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover expenses associated with the search efforts and Craig Strickland's burial.
“His passion for music and the stage are what many times have kept us going miles and miles down the road,” Strickland's Backroad Anthem bandmades wrote on Facebook on Dec. 30. “We want y’all — our fans, friends and loved ones — to know Craig is an amazing person, husband, son, bandmate and most certainly best friend.”
The Boot extends our deepest sympathies to Strickland's bandmates, family, friends and fans during this tragic time.
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