KAY COUNTY, Okla. (Dec. 30, 2015) — A search for country singer Craig Strickland is set to resume Wednesday morning, two days after the body of his friend Chase Morland was found at a lake in northern Oklahoma.
Strickland, a 29-year-old vocalist in the country rock band Backroad Anthem, and Morland, 22, were duck hunting at Oklahoma’s Kaw Lake on Sunday as a fierce winter weather system was hitting central portions of the country, the band said.
After relatives reported them missing, state troopers said they found Morland’s body Monday morning at the lake, where the friends’ boat purportedly overturned.
The weather at the time of the trip was perilous — rain, sleet and snow pelted the area, with wind gusts of up to 45 mph and wind chills as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit — and Morland acknowledged the danger in what is, in retrospect, a haunting tweet Saturday night.
“In case we don’t come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma. #IntoTheStorm,” Morland’s tweet reads.
Police said nothing about what caused Morland’s death. They added that there were “no personal flotation devices in use.”
The search for Strickland halts each night and resumes at daybreak. His wife said the family is overwhelmed with the amount of love and prayers received.
“Craig’s dog Sam has been found. His boat has been confirmed as being capsized,” Helen Strickland, a former Miss Arkansas USA, said Monday on Twitter. “They are still searching for Craig. Please keep praying.”
She later tweeted, “For everyone wanting to know, Sam is fine. He was a brave boy. He wouldn’t leave Chase’s body until the Warden found him.”
Strickland’s six-member Backroad Anthem formed in Arkansas in 2012. The band posted what it said was a message from Strickland’s father Monday night.
“We are trying to think of a scenario where he is still alive. Hoping against the odds,” the post reads. “We can’t even stand to think about it. We are devastated. Only God & time can put us back together.”
News of the ill-fated trip spread through the music industry. Musician Tyler Rich recounted on Facebook that he and Strickland were sitting at a Nashville bar about two months ago, talking about “how excited we were to see what each of us would be able to accomplish in 2016.”
“Just know we’re praying for you brother and know there’s still hope you’ll be found,” Rich’s post reads.
Morland, of Van Buren, Arkansas, had worked at a Gellco Outdoors hunting supply store in Arkansas.
“Chase lost his life in a duck hunting accident in Ponca City, Ok,” a post on the business’s Facebook page reads. “Our prayers and sympathy go out to the Morland family during this time of loss. We ask all of our customers to remember this family at this time.”