SURRY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Kyle Englehart and Austin Savage went missing during a winter storm on January 3, after they left the Jamestown Yacht Basin bound for a duck blind.
Nearly two weeks later, the search continues for the missing boaters, though Kyle’s father David is beginning to accept the worst.
We met David Englehart at a Surry County marina outside the Surry Seafood Company, which has assisted in providing a staging area for the search and rescue, and now the search and recovery.
He took us to the shores of Grays Creek. We walked along the shore for the length of three football fields. It was bitter cold, but a trip worth taking none the less to remember all that David has lost.
The peaceful waters of Grays Creek that feed the James River, “the best I know my son came here that Wednesday night,” says David, who took us to a duck blind constructed by his son.
It is here in tranquility that a father comes to mourn his lost son, “I took him into the woods,” David says while pausing to catch his emotion. He continues, “from age three he knew the woods, the best hunter I ever seen other than his grandfather.”
David spent a lot of time with Kyle, whom he calls a modern day Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.
“He was smart, fishing, hunting, he loved the water, jet skied, boating, and he was going to be safe.”
So David was not surprised when Kyle launched his 16-foot Jon boat at a James City County marina to travel directly across the James River to Grays Creek to fix up his duck blind in Surry County.
But he did it while a winter storm was hitting.
“My son loved what he was doing, and people ask me ‘why? why?’ I can answer that as his father. To answer the why part? He loved this river. He loved to duck hunt and shoot deer, to hunt and farm.”
David says investigators claim Kyle and his friend Austin Savage were last seen around 11 p.m. on the water heading towards Hog Island on the evening of January 3.
“It’s just baffling to me. Baffling. He was smart on the water. He knew how to drive that boat in all types of conditions,” David said. Then at 11:38 p.m., the last ping from Kyle’s phone was picked up on a cell tower.
“We are destroyed. We are destroyed. I have never had my heart broke like this. In a million pieces if it is (true that he is dead).”
In the grief, acceptance that fate has grabbed hold of his son, “As hard as it is I have accepted that and as time goes forward it’s perilous. If I feel helpless we are doing everything we can. The police and so many agencies are involved in this.”
At night, father talks to his son as if he were there.
“I say ‘son. It’s daddy. I can’t believe I can’t hear your voice one more time,’ ” David said .
David then says, “Kyle looked up at me and said, ‘No big deal.’ He said, ‘call me back dad.’ That is what he said, ‘call me back dad,’ and that is something he would say to me, ‘call me back dad.’ ”
You get a deep feeling that it’s God that will bring the Engleharts through.
“God is going to give whatever we are suppose to get. I do believe in our creator Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.”