Ohio Wesleyan student, musician father believed to have drowned on Arkansas vacation
An Ohio Wesleyan University student is believed to have drowned in an Arkansas lake while kayaking with his father, according to an Instagram post from the Delaware, Ohio university.
Charley Morris, 20, hasn't been located since his disappearance on the afternoon of March 16, while on a family trip for spring break in Beaver Lake, Arkansas.
The sophomore from Kansas City, Missouri, went out on the lake with his father, Chuck, 47, before a storm that morning, according to a Kansas City Star article on the incident.
Charley and Chuck, a percussionist for the band Lotus, were on the lake while Charley's mother, Jennifer Thompson, and his sister, Amelia, 12, went into town, according to the article.
That afternoon, when the pair didn't come back as expected, Thompson and Amelia drove around and searched for their family members before reporting them missing to authorities.
Since then, many have joined in the search for the pair.
Ohio Wesleyan hosts vigil, says community is 'heartbroken'
On Tuesday evening, Ohio Wesleyan posted Charley's photo on its Instagram account, stating that the university community is "heartbroken at the announcement that authorities have strong evidence" that the student and his father drowned.
“He will be remembered for his love for his family and the outdoors, his talent as a runner in cross country and track, his service as a Bishop Scholar tutor in local elementary schools, his dedication to his classwork, and his participation with OWU’s chamber orchestra," said Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones in a message to campus. "Most of all, he will be remembered at OWU as a beloved friend."
On Monday evening, the university hosted a vigil for Charley and Chuck, according to its Instagram page.
'This is a recovery': What authorities say about the search
Authorities with the Benton County Sheriff's Office found both kayaks and a jacket in the water, but no sign of the Morrises.
Lieutenant Shannon Jenkins with the sheriff's office said search efforts were still underway on Tuesday evening.
Jenkins said the pair are believed to have left on the kayaks around 11 a.m. on March 16 and were expected to return around 2 p.m. The sheriff's office was contacted by Thompson around 4 p.m. and the search began, Jenkins said.
Authorities used sonar in the water and K9's in the water and on the land, she said.
"We have a lot of resources and (are) doing everything we can possibly do," Jenkins said Tuesday. "Tomorrow we will scale back but will still have teams on the water. This is a recovery."
Jenkins said Thursday was very windy and storms were coming in, with wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour.
Multiple law enforcement agencies were helping with the search. Neither Chuck nor Charley had on life jackets, Thompson told the Star.
'Unsurvivable' conditions: The family's statement
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family at gofund.me/bd9a1acf.
On the page is a statement from the family stating that there was an "exhaustive search" for the two men.
"The family and the commanders leading the search and recovery activities are in agreement as to the fate and probable location of Chuck and Charley," the statement reads. "The weather and other elements created a perfect storm on the lake, and in the lake, that was unsurvivable."
Recovery efforts continue and the family said it has been overwhelmed by support and love and will celebrate Chuck and Charley's lives in gatherings soon.
"As a family, we are deeply grieving but have been heartened by all the love and tributes that have been sent our way for Chuck and Charley," the statement reads. "We love you all. Please also continue supporting the Lotus community that was Chuck’s passion, and the Ohio Wesleyan University community that Charley dearly loved. Thank you for keeping them all in your hearts and prayers."
Lotus' statement on Chuck and Charley Morris
We were all hoping for a miracle, but at this point, the search for Chuck & Charley has moved to a recovery. With help from K9 teams, there is a probable location on the lake, but logistical challenges including temp, weather, and depth have prevented a recovery thus far. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/EZ9Z24pcQx
— Lotus (@LotusTweets) March 21, 2023
The band Lotus, which identifies its genre as "jam/electronica/house," posted on its Twitter about Chuck and Charley on Tuesday.
"We were all hoping for a miracle, but at this point, the search for Chuck & Charley has moved to a recovery," the post reads.
The band, which lists its location as Philadelphia and recently released a new album, said it doesn't know how long the recovery will take, and directed people to the GoFundMe page.
"While we are deeply grieving, we plan to celebrate Chuck and Charley's lives, our memories with them, and what they meant to so many people."
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Wesleyan student, father believed drowned on spring break trip