‘I don’t know why they would have done this,’ says brother of duck hunter missing on icy river

Kyle Engelhart's truck, left, and Kyle Engelhart, right, in front of the frozen James River (WAVY)

JAMESTOWN, Va. (WAVY) — The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for two men have gone missing along the frozen James River, but divers from the Virginia State Police and officers from Department of Game and Inland Fisheries continue looking.

Wednesday night at 7 p.m., 29-year-old Kyle Englehart and 20-year-old Austin Savage launched Kyle’s 16-foot boat from the Jamestown Yacht Basin marina to go and fix Kyle’s duck blind across the James River.

They both were experienced outdoorsmen, so Kyle’s family was surprised they tried to make the trip with threatening blizzard conditions approaching.

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WAVY contacted Kyle’s brother Kameron by phone.

“He probably wanted to fix his duck blind, and it was up before the storm hit,” Kameron said. “That’s all we can think. He is a smart guy. I don’t know why they would have done this.”

The two men traveled from the Jamestown Yacht Basin marina through marsh area, finding their way to the James River. The family says investigators told them they found footprints at the blind, suggesting the two made it accross the James to Gray’s Creek the duck blind.

Then they apparently started back to the marina. Kameron thinks he knows what happened next, and an investigator indicated to WAVY that it is possible.

“The boat flipped because of the wind,” Kameron said. “We are just hoping they made it to the shore and are somehow still alive. I think it was the storm that got the best of them.”

Kameron says the investigators told the families that they think both men were alive at 11:38 Wednesday night as the snow storm was hitting.

“They said the phone pinged the cell tower, and that was the last time the phone was on. … That’s when they hit the water,” Kameron said.

It was only Kyle’s phone that pinged. His overturned boat was found on Hog Island on Thursday.

It is clear that the distances didn’t make sense for the trip that was made.

Kameron realizes that too. He says the investigators “were hypothesizing it was three miles from the truck where they have to get back to. It’s not good. We are not doing good. We are not doing good at all. At this point we just need to have them to be alive.”

Sadly, the search, which the Coast Guard suspended, has become a recovery effort.

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