Country singer Craig Strickland was found dead Monday along the shoreline of the Oklahoma lake where his boat capsized, KHBS-TV reports.
Strickland, the 29-year-old lead singer of the band Backroad Anthem, had been missing since December 26, when he ventured out into a harsh winter storm on a hunting trip. His friend, Chase Morland, also died. The pair were hunting at Kaw Lake when their boat overturned, police said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Friend Died of Drowning & Exposure to Freezing Temperatures
The Oklahoma medical examiner’s office said Morland died of drowning and exposure to freezing temperatures. A full autopsy report will take four to eight weeks. The cause of death for Strickland is not yet known.
Morland was found December 28, along with their boat and Strickland’s dog, Sam, who survived.
Strickland was found near where the boat capsized.
According to CNN, the fierce winter storm brought rain, sleet and snow to the area near the lake, with wind speeds up to 45 mph Saturday night into Sunday. Wind chills were as low as 15 degrees, CNN reports.
The search began Sunday when the friends’ family members told police they hadn’t heard from them. Rescuers had to halt their operations Monday night when it got too dark, hours after finding Morland’s body.
2. His Friend Sent Out an Ominous Tweet About Heading Into the Storm to Hunt
Morland sent an eerie tweet Saturday night, saying the pair was heading right into the winter storm in northern Oklahoma.
“In case we don’t come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma,” Morland tweeted.
Morland was a close friend of Strickland and worked at Gellco Outdoors, a hunting supply store in his home state of Arkansas.
“Chase lost his life in a duck hunting accident in Ponca City, Ok,” Gellco Outdoors said on Facebook. “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.”
3. Strickland Married His Wife, a Former Miss Arkansas Winner, in 2014
Craig Strickland from Alma started a band, and that’s where it all began. Sherwood native Helen Wisner had some friends in the band and their paths soon crossed. At that time, however, Helen was seeing someone else. But Craig got his chance soon enough, and the two fell madly in love.
A year later, at the Miss Arkansas USA pageant in which Helen was competing, their relationship took a pivotal turn. Craig had a hunch she would win, and he was right. When she was announced the winner, amidst tears and pageant waves, Craig shocked the crowd (and Helen!) by walking on stage and getting on one knee. Talk about a crowning moment!
4. Backroad Anthem Formed in 2012 in Strickland’s Home State of Arkansas
Strickland formed the band Backroad Anthem in his native Arkansas in 2012 along with guitarist/vocalist Toby Freeman, fiddler Eric Dysart, lead guitarist Josh Bryant, bassist Brandon Robold and drummer Isaac Senty. The band says on its Facebook page they started at a local church:
The band started at a local church as friends with a common love for music, but by the end of their first performance it was clear they had caught lightening in a bottle. With the ability to play off each other, engaging a crowd came naturally and they quickly found the identity and sound they desired to express to fans.’With these pieces in place, we’ll be able to build a fan base that will fall in love with our music,’ Craig explained. ‘The stars are aligning for this band.’
The band has opened for Chris Young, Josh Turner, Gary Allan, Easton Corbin, Tyler Farr and the Eli Young band. They released their first EP on May 13, 2013, “Small Town Fame,” which reached 24th on the iTunes Top Country Music chart.
The band was scheduled to play New Year’s Eve at the Rev Room in Little Rock, Arkansas.
5. He Worked at a Local TV Station After Winning a Contest
Strickland was born and raised in Alma, Arkansas. He lived in Fayetteville with his wife.
He won the local “CW Star” contest in 2012 to pick a face of the channel. The contest gave him a job as a host for the local station, 40/29, where he worked until putting his full attention toward his band.