UPDATED: Craig Strickland's wife speaks out after his body is recovered

by Kelly Ledbetter, |
Craig Strickland, 29, is still missing after his boat capsized in Winter Storm Goliath and his friend and hunting companion's body was found. | Craig Strickland via Facebook

UPDATED: January 4, 2015 4 p.m. EST

KAY COUNTY, Okla. (Christian Examiner) – Helen Strickland, the wife of 29-year-old vocalist Craig Strickland, tweeted Monday afternoon that his body had been found.

"#CraigStrickland was found today. He is safe with his Father in Heaven. Thank you Lord for leading us to him today. I will praise you, Amen," she wrote in her Tweet on social media.

Last week he was feared dead in a northwestern Oklahoma lake, as his wife asked for prayers for a miracle and her husband's safe return.

"While we hurt and experience the worst pain of our lives, we sometimes believe that God might not be there with us listening when we cry out to Him. But then, when we least expect it, He speaks and comforts us in such beautiful ways," Helen Strickland had tweeted.

Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas, tweeted New Year's Eve: "Heavy hearts and continued prayers from the @crosschurch family for @HelenWisner (Strickland) as the search continues for @BackroadCRAIG."

The lead singer, a part of the six-member country and rock band Backroad Anthem, which formed in Arkansas in 2012, was duck hunting with his friend on Kaw Lake when Winter Storm Goliath struck on Dec. 26.

Strickland shared that a close friend found a Bible with Craig's highlights and notes, an encouragement to friends and family who are waiting for any news. "These bible verses, which spoke to Craig, reminds us of God's intentions for our lives. No matter the outcome of this circumstance, the truth of God's word can comfort and give strength to each of us," Strickland wrote.

A photo of Craig's Bible shows orange highlighting in 1 Thessalonians 5 with the handwritten note "Be independent & pure."


On Dec. 28, the families of Craig Strickland and his friend, Chase Morland, 22, first requested prayer as they had not heard from either of the men in 24 hours. Later that day, Moreland's body was recovered and the men's boat was determined to have capsized.

Craig's dog Sam was found alive. "For everyone wanting to know, Sam is fine," Strickland tweeted with a photo of the dog. "He was a brave boy. He wouldn't leave Chase's body until the Warden found him."

The local sheriff's office and highway patrol have been searching for Craig, an avid hunter. While the search was temporarily called off due to dangerous weather, the authorities returned with sonar equipment and a helicopter to try to locate Craig. The search continues during daylight, CNN reported.

"We are trying to think of a scenario where he is still alive. Hoping against the odds. We can't even stand to think about it. We are devastated. Only God & time can put us back together." Craig's father, Randy Strickland, said on the band's page.

Before the two friends left on the morning of Dec. 26, Morland tweeted, "In case we don't come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma. #IntoTheStorm."


Strickland and Backroad Anthem have openly asked for prayer. The band organized a public prayer meeting at Cross Church in Springdale, Ark. on Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. and asked those who could not attend to pray from home.

Police did not say what the cause of Morland's death was, although they said there were "no personal flotation devices in use," according to CNN.

"It's a big lake, and when we have high winds, the lake will get whitecapped; the waves get pretty big," Kay County Sheriff Everette VanHoesen told FOX News.

Winter Storm Goliath caused at least 19 deaths and hundreds of accidents, according to Weather.com, which called it the deadliest storm of 2015. Over 15 states were seriously affected, Oklahoma bearing a major part of the storm.

"I understand these men were avid hunters. They knew what they were doing, but sometimes the size of our lake really tricks them," the sheriff added.

Winter Storm Goliath caused at least five deaths in Oklahoma and hundreds of injuries. The state governor declared a state of emergency on Dec. 28 in response to the storm.

"'You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.' - Psalm 56:8 ?" tweeted Strickland on Dec. 29.