An Arkansas judge drowned in a lake during a weekend getaway with family and friends, authorities said.
The body of Arkansas County Northern District Judge Jeremiah T. Bueker was recovered early Sunday from the bottom of Mud Lake in Jefferson County, sheriff officials said in a statement. He was 48.
The judge was spending time with several relatives and friends during a “recreational” outing over the weekend when he ventured off alone, authorities said.
“After time had passed and no one had seen or heard from Bueker, worry to set in,” sheriff officials said Sunday.
Bueker was last seen near Mud Lake, which dumps into the Arkansas River just north of Reydell. The judge’s family then called 911 after they couldn’t find him on Saturday.
Jefferson County deputies launched extensive ground and water searches for Bueker that were later suspended due to low visibility. Mud Lake was then scoured just after sunrise Sunday and a sonar detected the judge’s body at the bottom, authorities said.
“Deputies utilized subsurface body recovery drag/rescue hooks to recover Bueker’s body,” authorities said. “Upon recovery of the body, deputies and investigators with the assistance of a positively identified family as that Bueker.”
Bueker’s death is being probed as an accidental drowning, but his body is being sent to a state medical examiner for an autopsy, authorities said.
Sheriff Lafayette Woods said he hoped the recovery of Bueker’s body provides “some sense of closure” to his family and loved ones.
“The scour of emotions they must feel right now is devastating,” Woods said.
Stuttgart Mayor Norma Strabala, meanwhile, said she was “shocked and heartbroken” by Bueker’s sudden death.
“Jeremy was an important and special person in this community, serving as a good friend, fierce attorney, and the Arkansas County Northern District Court Judge for nearly a decade,” Strabala wrote on Facebook. “I am praying for Sunny, his family dela and this community as we mourn this tragic loss.”
Bueker, who was elected as a district judge in 2012, was an “avid outdoorsman” and a “very proud father,” a Stuttgart city official told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
He was last seen alive late Saturday, authorities told the outlet.
“His family had a weekend at a cabin on the family’s property,” said Maj. Gary McClain of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. “They were riding [utility vehicles] and returned back to the cabin. It appears he decided to go swimming after maybe being dusty and he went missing. No one was with him; he was alone.”
Relatives said Bueker loved to swim, so taking a spontaneous dip would not have been unusual for him, McClain added.