Craig Strickland "experienced no pain in his final moments," his wife says.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol Marine Enforcement Division found the country singer's body in Bear Creek Cove on Monday, over a week after Strickland went missing during a duck hunting trip. The 29-year-old's wife, Helen, says in a new post that he died of hypothermia.
"The night of the accident he had fought his way out of the water and up a hill before the stages of hypothermia set in," she wrote on Instagram. "He experienced no pain in his final moments and simply felt like he was falling asleep."
Strickland, who was the lead singer of local Arkansas band Backroad Anthem, and his friend, Chase R. Morland, 22, were reported missing on Dec. 26. Two days later, Morland's body was recovered, though Strickland's family held out hope when his dog, Sam, returned unharmed.
Unfortunately, that search ended on Jan. 4 and, as Helen says, "We can finally rest knowing that he is at Home in Heaven with his Father."
See more photos of Craig Strickland:
Country star Craig Strickland found dead after hunting trip
Craig Strickland died of hypothermia, country singer's wife says
Thank you so much @kristinathomasphotography for sending these beautiful pictures of us. I am crying because they make my heart so full of love for this man. I love him with every fiber of my being. And I want to thank everyone for all the love, kind words and support they have sent to our family. Thank you for continuing to pray without stopping. Because of you we have been able to make it through this difficult time. Thank you for loving us and Chase's family.
Thank you @CrossChurch and @shilohsaints For holding a prayer session for Craig for the past two nights. I couldn't make it through life without all of you. Thank you to all the people who have come up, called, and messaged me to shower me with love. Thank you to @backroadanthem for loving me as a sister and being there for our family every step of the way. Thank you to all the OK law enforcement agencies that have cared so much through this crisis.
I'm sorry I can't thank everyone for everything you have done. But know that I love you and appreciate every single call, text, hug and prayer. To update everyone, the search for Craig has been called for the night and will resume in the morning. We love you and appreciate you more than words can say. Please continue to pray for both our and Chase's family.
From Little Rock last night to now sitting in a tree in Brown County Illinois... Ready to give an Illinois buck a ride in the back of the truck... 👊🏼
Thank you everyone who will be there tonight. You have no idea what that means to me and does for my heart. I am so blessed to have my CrossChurch and Shiloh family. I wouldn't be able to walk through this difficult moment without all of you. Thank you all. Love you ❤️
Merry Christmas from the Stricklands ☺️ #PrettyWife #Christmas
#missusa2015 with my love ❤️ @backroadcraig
I'm so incredibly happy a member of our Vanbros family won it!!! So proud to have judged you at Miss OK USA @missusa! You did amazing!! 👑💖👏🏻
Well that was fun... #KendrickFincher #Arkansas
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"They found him lying in the shape of a cross looking up to his Father," she continued. "Thank you to every single person who prayed for him and our family during this time. There was not a more peaceful way for him to go into the arms of our Lord, and I know your prayers had a role in making that happen. I know he saw Jesus at that moment when he laid down and walked arm in arm with Him into a better Everlasting Life."
"I love you with all my heart Craig Michael," she concluded.
Earlier in the day, as news broke that Strickland's body had been recovered,Helen tweeted, "Thank you Lord for leading us to him today. I will praise you, Amen."
Prior to the men going missing, Morland sent out an ominous tweet about the trip, saying, "In case we don't come back, @BackroadCRAIG and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma. #IntoTheStorm."