Update 9:10 a.m. Thursday:
The Geary County Sheriff has released the name of the duck hunter who drowned after falling through ice at Milford lake at 7:42 Tuesday morning. The victim has been identified as Thomas Hedrick, 31. No further information about Hedrick has been released at this time but officials say he was a Fort Riley soldier.
Fort Riley authorities indicate Thomas Leeman Hedrick III was a Specialist with the Aviation Brigade, and was in construction maintenance repair. His home was listed as Thebes, Illinois, and he had just returned from Afghanistan in November. The Aviation Brigade just last week lost five soldiers in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the Hedrick family and all of Thomas’ friends,” said Maj. Martin L. O’Donnell, a 1st Infantry Division spokesman. “We remain committed to supporting them and the local authorities as their recovery efforts continue.”
Sheriff Tony Wolf says the Hedrick was trying to recover a duck that he and his hunting partner had shot. Hedrick got into a makeshift boat that had no motor. He started out to the ice sheet where the duck was and was caught by the wind and pushed further out. The small boat started taking on water. The victim made it to the ice sheet where he was stranded. He was able to stay on the ice for a short time; however he fell through the ice shortly after that.
Sheriff Wolf adds: “This is a terrible tragedy for all that were involved. I along and the members of the Geary County Sheriff’s Department would like everyone to remember the family in your prayers.”
The Sheriff also thanks Junction City Fire and EMS, Geary County Emergency Services, Kansas State Park’s Department, Kansas State Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Life Star, and the Riley County Dive Team for their response and efforts.
One person has drowned in Milford Lake, with search efforts reported on the southwest side of the lake early Tuesday morning.
Further details are not yet available, although Geary county Sheriff Tony Wolf was working on a news release just before noon Tuesday.
Garry Berges, Director of Geary County Emergency Management, tells KMAN the individual apparently was out duck hunting.