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Drowning victim identified

By Bethany Knipp

The body of a Fort Riley soldier is still missing in Milford Lake, where the man drowned Tuesday morning while duck hunting.

The Geary County Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as 31-year-old Thomas Hedrick, who reportedly was trying to recover a duck he shot near Charley’s Point in the southwest portion of the lake.

Fort Riley confimed that Hedrick, whose full name is Thomas L. Hedrick III, was a specialist from Thebes, Ill. He was a construction maintenance repairer with the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade at the base.

Authorities said that around 7:40 a.m., Hedrick tried to retrieve the duck by going onto the lake in a small, makeshift boat – but he was pushed further on to the water by strong winds.

When water began filling the boat, Hedrick escaped to an ice sheet, where he was stranded for a short time before he falling through into the bitterly cold water.

A spokesperson from the sheriff’s office said the search for Hedrick’s body was suspended Tuesday because of the ice and freezing temperatures.

Information about when the search will resume was not released, but authorities are looking to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks for a boat equipped with sonar scanners that can detect masses in the lake.

The Riley County Dive Team also is expected to help with recovery.

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