The Backroad Anthem singer, who went missing during a hunting trip in Oklahoma, was found dead at Kaw Lake Monday
Craig Strickland has been found dead.
“The Oklahoma Highway Patrol Marine Enforcement Division made recovery of the body of Craig M. Strickland this morning Jan. 4, 2016 at 11:35 a.m.,” a spokesperson confirms to PEOPLE in a statement.
“Strickland and his friend, Chase R. Morland were both reported missing on Dec. 27 while on a duck hunt at Kaw Lake in Kay County, Oklahoma. Strickland’s body was located by an OHP Trooper who was searching on foot, in a thick tree and brush area approximately 75 feet off the shoreline. This thick tree line made it difficult to locate Strickland, who was wearing camouflage hunting gear. This is all within the original search area known as Bear Creek Cove, and was approximately ¾ mile north of the boat ramp and west of the shoreline. The Strickland family has been notified of the recovery.”
Wife Helen Strickland tweeted, “Craig 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.”
Morland had Tweeted an ominous message foreshadowing the tragic turn of events.
“In case we don’t come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma. #IntoTheStorm,” Morland tweeted in the early morning hours on Sunday. Strickland also retweeted the message the same day.
After family and friends didn’t hear from them, a search party had been sent out. Morland’s body was discovered at 11:10 a.m. on Dec. 28 in shallow water and their boat was also found capsized.
Strickland’s family and friends were clinging to hope that he might be found alive since his beloved black lab, Sam, who was also on the hunting trip, was found safe and sound beside Morland. Strickland was located approximately ¼ mile north of where Morland was recovered, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said in a statement.
Strickland’s family and friends had been praying for a miracle. His father, Randy Strickland, posted the following message on the band’s Facebook page: “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. Love all!”
“We are hanging in there,” Strickland’s bandmate Toby Freeman told PEOPLE exclusively Monday. “We are still in shock. It’s still hard to believe and I know the family is struggling and ready to find him.”
“We love you Craig Michael,” Tweeted Strickland’s wife Helen. “Come home.”
“It’s more painful for us to think he could be underwater,” she said. “Still we want that closure in seeing him.”
• Reporting by DANIELLE ANDERSON and NICK MASLOW