Arkansas country singer missing in northern Oklahoma after boat capsized

TULSA, Okla. -- Rescuers searched Tuesday along a 61-km long lake in northern Oklahoma for an Arkansas country singer who went missing while duck hunting with a friend in severe weather.

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Authorities returned to massive Kaw Lake, which nearly stretches into Kansas, in attempts to find 29-year-old Craig Strickland of Springdale, Arkansas, who went missing on Sunday after his boat capsized. On Monday, troopers recovered the body of Strickland's hunting companion, Chase Morland, from the lake.

Strickland is the lead singer of the Arkansas-based country-rock band Backroad Anthem. The band posted a Twitter message Tuesday from Strickland's father, Randy, who reported that the family was at the Kay County Sheriff's Office, where the power was out and running on a generator. Randy Strickland did not immediately return a message at his Oklahoma address seeking comment but said in the online post that Craig Strickland's dog, Sam, had been found.

The expansive terrain, coupled with the severe storms that pounded the area over the weekend, hampered rescue efforts, said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Paul Timmons. The severe rains and flooding are blamed for at least five deaths in Oklahoma and more than 100 injuries, according to state health officials. On Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency after blizzard conditions affected parts of the state and heavy rains fell.

Kay County Sheriff Everette VanHoesen said the enormity and unpredictable nature of the lake catches many inexperienced boaters by surprise.

"It's a big lake, and when we have high winds, the lake will get whitecapped; the waves get pretty big," VanHoesen said Tuesday. "I understand these men were avid hunters. They knew what they were doing, but sometimes the size of our lake really tricks them."

A message posted to Morland's Twitter account before the pair set out read: "In case we don't come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma. #IntoTheStorm."

Strickland is married to former Miss Arkansas Helen Wisner, who posted a message on her Twitter account reading, "We love you Craig Michael. Come home."

The Highway Patrol said the search was suspended Tuesday evening due to darkness and was set to resume Wednesday morning.


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