LAKE EUCHA - An early morning deer hunt turned tragic when a father and stepson lost their lives after the water craft they were using to cross Lake Eucha took on water and sank early Saturday morning.
According to officials, Jonathan K. Searles, 35, and his 15-year-old step-son Colyn L. Jones, both of Checotah, Okla. drowned after their 1962 Richline 10-foot flat bottom boat started taking on water approximately 30 yards from shore. Aboard with the couple were Rickey Ferguson, 56, of Kansas and William Ferguson, 34, of Siloam Springs, Ark. who made it safely to shore.
Investigators say the four men were headed across the lake at the dam to set up for deer hunting. The boat, a two-man flat bottom with a trolling motor, started taking on water. The men started swimming back toward shore when the teenager panicked and his step-father went back for him. The Fergusons heard him say they were alright and that was the last communication heard from Jones, according to witnesses. The men were dressed in heavy clothing and none of the men were wearing floatation devices, according to the official report by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Responding agencies included the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, City of Tulsa Municipal Lake Patrol, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, Jay, Eucha, Lakemont and Kenwood Fire Department, Delaware County Emergency Management, and Jay Emergency Medical Services.
“We really appreciate the quick response from every one of the agencies. It’s a tragedy, and we’re just glad to have recovered the bodies for their families as quickly as we did,” said Sheriff Jay Blackfox.