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Arkansas Judge Found Dead at the Bottom of Lake

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The death of an Arkansas judge whose body was recovered from a lake is being investigated as an accidental drowning, authorities said.

Judge Jeremiah T. Bueker went missing Saturday night and his body was recovered on Sunday morning.

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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.

Maj. Gary McClain said that Bueker went missing after going for a ride on a recreational vehicle. He was spending the weekend with family at a nearby cabin, McClain said.

“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.”

The sheriff’s office said crews used sonar to locate Bueker’s body at the bottom of the lake Sunday morning.

Bueker was a county district judge for the northern district of Arkansas County.

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“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 read.

“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.

The statement continued: “Just after sunrise, deputies and wildlife officers resumed their search for Bueker and scoured the depth and breadth of Mud Lake. At approximately 9:16 a.m., the side-scan sonar revealed a body on the bottom of the lake. Deputies utilized subsurface body recovery drag/rescue hooks to recover Bueker’s body. Upon recovery of the body, deputies and investigators with the assistance of family positively identified the body as that of Bueker.”

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Sheriff Woods said, “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.”

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office was notified and arrived at the scene a short time later, where Bueker was pronounced deceased. Bueker’s death is being investigated as an accidental drowning; however, his body will be sent to the State Medical Examiner for an autopsy.

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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 as Arkansas County Northern District Court Judge for nearly a decade,” Strabala wrote on Facebook. “I am praying for Sunny, his family, and this community as we mourn this tragic loss.”

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