The members of Backroad Anthem have shared a touching tribute to their bandmate and friend, Craig Strickland, whose body was recovered on Monday (Jan. 4), after he went missing during a duck hunt on Dec. 27.

"Today we lost our brother, our best friend, our bandmate," the group writes on Instagram, along with a photo of the entire band smiling out among some mountains on a sunny day. "Craig was the most amazing person whose passion for life couldn't be matched."

Search and rescue teams — including members in the air, on land and in sonar-equipped boats — had been searching a two-mile area of Kaw Lake in Kay County, Okla., where 29-year-old Strickland, his 22-year-old friend Chase Morland and Strickland’s dog Sam went for a duck hunt early on Dec. 27, despite severe weather conditions. (Evidence suggests that they likely never got an opportunity to begin their hunt.) The search began after Strickland and Morland failed to make contact with their families for 24 hours.

Morland’s body was recovered on the afternoon of Dec. 28, with Sam found, alive, next to his body. On Dec. 31, search crews discovered footprints, boat marks and dog prints that helped them narrow their search area, and a few days later, Strickland's body was recovered in the same general area. The singer had been able to get out of the water after his boat capsized.

"[We are] thankful to know he fought his way from the water to a hill and was lying in the shape of a cross on his back, looking up to his Heavenly Father," Backroad Anthem's post continues. "... We pray today for God to wrap his arms around [Strickland's father] Randy, [his mother] Joanne, [his wife] Helen and the family, and to help us through this extremely difficult time. We want to thank every single friend, fan and family member for your thoughts, prayers and love."

Backroad Anthem began their career in October of 2012. In addition to Strickland on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, the country/rock band includes Toby Freeman on vocals and electric guitar, fiddler Eric Dysart, guitarist Josh Bryant, bassist and vocalist Brandon Robold and drummer Isaac Senty. The group has opened for country artists including Chris Young, Gary Allan and Tyler Farr; they had a New Year’s Eve show planned in Little Rock, Ark., prior to Strickland's disappearance. There is no official word about the band's future plans in light of Strickland's death.

"Today he is smiling down on us, and we know he will always be with us. He will always be here to help guide us along the way," the Instagram post concludes. "We love you, Craig Strickland, and we will forever miss you!"

For friends and fans looking for a way to help out, a GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover expenses associated with the search efforts and Craig Strickland’s burial.

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