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Clendening drowning victims identified

FREEPORT — The bodies of two Michigan men who went missing Sunday have been recovered from Clendening Lake.

The bodies of James “Bud” Miller Jr., 63, and James McKibbin, 43, were recovered around 2 p.m. from the lake after an extensive search Monday afternoon. Adria Bergeron, communications director for Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, said the two men are presumed to have drowned.

“Our sincere condolences go out to the families who lost their loved ones today,” Craig Butler, executive director of the MWCD, stated in a release. “Especially as we head into hunting season, we cannot stress enough that everyone exercise caution whether on land, or on the water. Let someone know where you are, whether you’re hiking or hunting, and always wear a lifejacket when on the water.”

It is believed the inclement weather may have played a role in the men’s deaths.

“I can’t imagine the weather did not play a factor in what happened,” Bergeron said.

Neither of the men were wearing life jackets.

Their boat has not yet been recovered.

“The recovery efforts for the boat will continue today (Tuesday),” Bergeron said.

The two men were staying in a cabin for a hunting and fishing trip and were reported missing by friends who arrived later in the evening Sunday. The men were last seen on video surveillance at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon near the marina.

“There were other gentlemen that they were meeting in their hunting party – they were all staying at the same cabin together – and they arrived later in the day. When the two that went missing didn’t return back to the cabin, they ended up reporting them missing around midnight Sunday night,” Bergeron said.

A land, sky and lake search ensued at approximately 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. The MWCD, Ohio Department of Natural resources, Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the Bowerston, Freeport, Rush Township, Scio and Washingtown Township fire departments all assisted in the search.

Bergeron said the vehicle and boat trailer of one of the men were located near the lake. The man’s boat was missing from the trailer which led investigators to presume they had gone onto the lake.

The investigation is ongoing.

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