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Virginia hunters missing on James River

Posted at 12:05 PM, Jan 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-07 01:29:06-05

JAMESTOWN, Va. -- The search for two missing Central Virginia duck hunters turned into a recovery effort Friday afternoon, according to Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries spokesperson Lee Walker. A K9 Unit and a drone were being used to in the effort to recover the men who were reported missing after their 16-foot john boat never returned to the Jamestown Yacht Marina Wednesday evening.

A Virginia State Police helicopter discovered the hunters' capsized boat Thursday afternoon, but the hunters -- identified by family and friends as Kyle Englehart and Austin Savage -- have not yet been located.

"Austin and Kyle are very hands on and very experienced hunters and boaters," Austin's brother Nathan Savage said. "Something doesn't add up because they're so experienced."

Englehart and Savage went out Wednesday night to repair a broken duck blind before the winter storm hit Virginia.

When they did not return, workers at the marina notified the Coast Guard. That was at 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Their empty boat was discovered three hours later, near Hogg Island, Coast Guard spokesperson Corinne Zilnicki said.

The Coast Guard suspended its water search for Englehart and Savage as of noon Friday.

Crews were searching around Hogg Island into Thursday night and Friday morning.

"Pretty much all of our time goes to hunting. It's been that way since we were little," Nathan Savage said. "We are hoping for the best at the moment."

Austin Savage, 20, is from Hampton and works maintenance at Varina High School.

Kyle, 29, graduated from Varina High School and lives in Charles City County where he works as a farmer, according to friends and his social media accounts.

The night Englehart and Savage disappeared, a massive winter storm hit the Hampton Roads region of Virginia dumping snow and keeping temperatures in the teens.

Virginia Marine Resource Commission, York County Sheriff's Office, James City County Police Department, James City County Fire/Rescue, and Virginia Department of Emergency Management are also searching in the recovery mission.

For boating safety tips, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recommend you visit their website.

This is a developing story.

Witnesses or friends of the Englehart and Savage can send news tips here.