Murray State student Samantha Ratledge, 22, was celebrating her Labor Day weekend with friends Sunday out on Kentucky Lake when she fell overboard around 8 p.m.
Riding on a moving pontoon boat with no life vest, according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Ratledge fell overboard after crossing the front safety rail. Despite stopping the boat once she fell, the other six people on the boat could not find her.
Kevin Kelly, the chief information officer at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said James T. Nance, 49, of Calloway County was operating the boat.
Nance was taken to the Calloway County Jail and charged with boating under the influence.
Many agencies, including the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, reported to the scene and searched through Sunday evening and all of Monday. It was the Calloway County Fire-Rescue who found the young woman.
After days of searching, Ratledge’s body was recovered Tuesday at noon. Ratledge fell overboard near Paradise Resort around mile marker 48 and was found just south of this area. An autopsy was performed on Wednesday in Madisonville at the Medical
Ratledge, a Scott City, Missouri, native, was pursuing a degree in occupational safety and health. An athletic young woman, she ran track and field and played softball in high school.
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Ratledge’s visitation will be Saturday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The funeral will take place the same day at 3 p.m. Both the visitation and funeral will be held at Kelly High School in Benton, Missouri. A short grave-side service at Unity Baptist Church will follow.
Ratledge’s father, David Ratledge II, made a special request in regards to his daughter’s funeral.
“In lieu of flowers, we would like to request a donation be made to the Calloway County Fire and Rescue in Kentucky,” David said in a Facebook post. “They are in desperate need of upgraded sonar equipment so that no other family has to wait as long as we did to find our baby girl. They are 100 percent volunteer and work off of donations. Please reference Samantha on your donation. Thank you.”
For those who want to donate, donations can be sent to the Calloway County Fire-Rescue.