by Heather Tomlinson
Families in two different counties are in mourning after the bodies of two duck hunters were found by rescuers in the Green River area in western Kentucky.
Larry Stokes, 57, of Somerset, and his hunting friend Harold Wethington, 76, of Liberty, Ky., were reported missing by their families Friday afternoon after they didn’t return as expected from a duck hunting trip on Green River in Taylor County, which is a popular recreation spot in western Kentucky.
What entailed was a weekend of waiting and watching for any signs of the two men after rescuers descended on Green River to search for the men. Stokes and Wethington reportedly launched their boat Friday morning at the Green River Boat Ramp just below the tail-waters of Green River Lake, located seven miles south of Campbellsville.
Officials discovered the men's vehicle was still in the parking lot of the boat ramp, which prompted the search.
Their boat was located approximately 14 miles downstream near the Taylor–Green County line late Friday night. According to media reports, the boat was found pinned against a tree in the water.
Officials said family members described Stokes and Wethington as experienced hunters who had hunted in the area a number of times.
Rescuers suspended the search for the men at 3:30 a.m. EST Saturday morning and resumed the search at 7 a.m. Saturday. Officials reported that high water levels of Green River, caused by consistent rain in the area, were causing some issues in the search.
Officials estimated that the river’s water levels on Friday was between 15 and 20 feet deep, as compared to a normal depth of between five to 10 feet.
Wethington’s body was reportedly discovered at around 2 p.m. Saturday around 26 miles downstream from where he and Stokes were hunting, in Green County.
Officials suspended the search at dark Saturday and resumed at daybreak on Sunday. Stokes’ body was reportedly discovered by a volunteer at around 10 a.m. Sunday around 11 miles from where the men had launched their boat.
WDRB in Louisville reported that their deaths are still puzzling to investigators, who say though the water levels were dangerously high, the boat the hunters used was found still operable. Officials say the men were probably returning when something went wrong.
“You never know,” said Green County Emergency Management Director Bill Matney, according to WDBR. “So many things can happen, a miscalculation. He had a powerful motor on a relatively small vessel. We don't know, We don't know.”
Dozens of emergency officials and around 50 volunteers participated in the weekend search, according to media reports.
Officials said it appeared both men drowned.
Messages of encouragement and prayer for Stokes’ family in Somerset were widely circulated Sunday and Monday on the social networking site Facebook.
Funeral services for Stokes have been set for 1 p.m. Thursday at the Science Hill Church of the Nazarene. Visitation is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday at the church.
Stokes’ family is asking that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to the Taylor County Rescue Squad, the Green County Rescue Squad or the Hope Lodge Organization.