MURRAY — The family of a Missouri woman is extending its thanks to those who helped recover their daughter’s body after a weekend boating accident on Kentucky Lake claimed her life. 

The family of Samantha Brooke Ratledge, 22, of Scott City, Missouri, extended their thanks to the men and women volunteers of Calloway County Fire-Rescue who worked to find the body of their daughter. Ratledge, who was a Murray State University student, died after witnesses said she fell from a moving pontoon boat on Kentucky Lake Sunday evening. 

In her obituary, the family extended their thanks to the CCFR volunteers “who brought their daughter home to them.” In lieu of flowers, the family asked instead that donations be sent to CCFR to assist the department in the purchase of updated sonar equipment. 

CCFR Chief Tommy Morgan said the family of Ratledge had extended their many thanks to the volunteers at the department while they were still searching for the body of their daughter. He said her father had asked what he might be able to do to make such searches take less time in the future, and Morgan said that new sonar equipment would be one way. 

He also said he never expected that conversation to result in a call for donations to the department. 

“They talked to us Tuesday after we had found her, and they came down while we were getting ready to leave,” Morgan said. “The family came down and hugged everyone we had and said thanks from the bottom of their hearts. They were thankful they were able to take their baby back home, and that gives closure. They were very thankful, and some of them had already given a donation before they left.

“We didn’t ask for it, but they wanted to do something to thank us.”

Morgan said there were a lot of factors that led to the time it took for CCFR and other crews to locate Ratledge. Among those was the lack of a clear idea where her body originally went into the water.

Morgan said that when asked, he explained to Ratledge’s father how newer sonar equipment would have sped up the search process. 

“It’s just like computers; the newer stuff is better than the older stuff, because they are upgrading it all the time,” Morgan said. “And you are talking about a $3,000 unit just for one. But in that situation where somebody is underwater, it helps us locate them.” 

Morgan said it really meant a lot for the family to consider the needs of a volunteer fire department while going through such a tremendous loss. 

“I told my son this is why I do this; it shows that you have helped a family,” Morgan said. “I am sure there are other things they could have done other than try to help us. So that makes me feel like we did good for them for them to turn around and try to support us back. There is not an hourly rate that will say what that means to us.” 

Morgan said the support of Lynnhurst Family Resort and Paradise Resort were also appreciated as well. He said both establishments went out of their way to feed and provide volunteers with whatever they needed during the search. 

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