UPDATE: More than a week after Backroad Anthem singer Craig Strickland went missing, authorities have located his body. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said they located Strickland on a hill near the pond where he and friend Chase Morland were fishing. The winter weather, which Morland acknowledged in an eerie tweet, included rain, sleet, snow, and gusting wind up to 45 mph. The wind chill dropped temperatures to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Morland is said to have died of drowning in a capsized boat and of exposure, according to the Oklahoma Chief Medical Examiner's office. “Today we lost our brother, our best friend, our bandmate. Craig was the most amazing person whose passion for life couldn't be matched. Thankful to know he fought his way from the water to a hill and was lying in the shape of a cross on his back looking up to his Heavenly Father,” the band said in a Facebook post yesterday.
Our initial story, published on December 29, 2015, follows.
What started as a holiday hunting trip between two friends and a dog, has had a dark and tragic outcome. Early Saturday morning, just one day after celebrating Christmas with his family, country singer Craig Strickland, 29, of the Arkansas band Backroad Anthem, and friend Chase Morland, 22, embarked on a hunting trip with Strickland's dog, Sam. Both were experienced hunters, as seen from previous social media posts. Morland tweeted at 11:42 PM on Dec. 26, "In case we don't come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma. #IntoTheStorm." Strickland retweeted the message right after. The most striking line is the first part of the tweet: "In case we don't come back."
The tweet was meant to be humorous. Morland even included the "laugh-cry" emoji. But, neither have been heard from since. Morland's last few tweets had all been hopeful, and looking forward to the new year.
The three left home on Dec. 26, drove to Tulsa, Oklahoma and climbed aboard their small boat. It is unclear the timeline of events, but as of now, the capsized boat has been located. The black labrador, Sam, has been found, alive. Officials in the area have confirmed that the dead body they found was Morland's, according to Fox News. But there have been no signs or leads on the whereabouts of Strickland. The most troubling part of this hunting trip gone wrong is the presence of winter storm Goliath. The storm is hitting the Midwest region especially hard, according to The Weather Channel. It appears the boat capsized due to the flooding of Kaw Lake, where the two were duck hunting.
Strickland's wife, former Miss Arkansas 2014, Helen Strickland, has been posting updates on Twitter for everyone.
The married couple appeared to have been fishing partners themselves.
Craig's father, Randy Strickland, has also been vocal on his Twitter, tweeting for everyone to not give up.
Our thoughts go out to the Strickland family as the search continues.