An Arkansas judge has been found in the bottom of a lake, authorities said as they investigate his death as an accidental drowning.
The body of Judge Jeremiah T. Bueker, 48, who went missing Saturday evening, was found on Sunday morning.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that his body was found in Mud Lake in Reydell, which is just outside of Little Rock.
“His family had a weekend at a cabin on the family’s property,” Jefferson County Sheriff Maj. Gary McClain said, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He said that Bueker had gone for a ride on a recreational vehicle.
“It appears he decided to go swimming after maybe being dusty and he went missing,” he said. “No one was with him, he was alone.”
Crews used sonar to locate Bueker’s body at the bottom of the lake Sunday morning, according to the sheriff’s office.
“The boats used were equipped with side-scan sonar, which provides a birds-eye view of the water,” Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. said.
The body was recovered and positively identified by the family.
“I truly pray that the successful recovery of Judge Bueker’s body by our deputies and Arkansas Game & Fish Wildlife Officers brings some sense of closure to the Bueker Family and those who knew him best. The scour of emotions they must feel right now is devastating,” Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. said in a statement.
“Bueker, several family members, and friends spent their weekend in Jefferson County, Arkansas as part of their recreational travel. At some point during their outing, Bueker reportedly ventured off alone. After time had passed and no one had seen or heard from Bueker, worry began to set in. A search for Bueker by family and friends began,” the statement continued.
“Bueker was last seen near Mud Lake, which channels into the Arkansas River just north of Achorn Drive in Reydell, Arkansas. Unable to immediately locate Bueker and well past sunset, Bueker’s Family called 9-1-1. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched by the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association (MECA) just before midnight and immediately responded. Upon arrival, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol, joined wildlife officers with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission began an extensive ground and water search. Boats were deployed to aid in the search of Bueker. The continued well into the early morning before both ground and water searches were suspended due to low visibility,” the statement added.
Stuttgart Mayor Norma King Strabala shared a statement in a Facebook post regarding the incident.
“I, along with the City of Stuttgart and the Grand Prairie community are shocked and heartbroken at the loss of Jeremy Bueker,” she wrote.
“Jeremy was an important and special person in this community, serving as a good friend, fierce attorney, and as Arkansas County Northern District Court Judge for nearly a decade. I am praying for Sunny, his family and this community as we mourn this tragic loss,” Strabala’s statement added.
The mayor also announced that the trial court for the Northern District of Arkansas scheduled for Thursday was canceled out of respect for Bueker.
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