Riley Stran selfie

Riley Strain's Parents Speak Out Following Heartbreaking Discovery Of His Body

Home / News / Riley Strain's Parents Speak Out Following Heartbreaking Discovery Of His Body

By Kelly Coffey-Behrens on March 25, 2024 at 2:45 PM EDT

After police recovered Riley Strain's body, his parents are speaking out, thanking law enforcement and the public for their help.

On Friday, the Metro Nashville Police Department confirmed that the 22-year-old student’s body had been found in the Cumberland River after a two-week search. He was last seen alive on March 8, after he was reportedly kicked out of Luke Bryan‘s bar in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Riley Strain's Body Found In River

Man Last Seen At Luke Bryan's Bar Has Been Missing For Days
Whiteid and Gilbert Family

Around 9:35 p.m. on March 8, Riley Strain was reportedly kicked out of Luke Bryan‘s bar in Nashville, Tennessee.

11 minutes later, surveillance footage showed Riley stumbling and falling in a parking lot at 3rd Avenue and Church Street. One minute later, at 9:47 p.m., surveillance video caught Strain crossing 1st Avenue North to Gay Street.

Riley was then caught on police body camera talking to an officer for a brief moment. A few days after he went missing, two women found Strain's credit card near the river. After two weeks of searching, his body was found in the same river, and cops have ruled his death "accidental."

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Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake said that "there is no other evidence that suggests anything other than" the 22-year-old falling into the river. Police say he still had his clothes, watch, and other identifying items on him.

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Riley Strain's Mom Says 'Hug Your Babies Tight'

Man Last Seen At Luke Bryan's Bar Has Been Missing For Days
Whiteid and Gilbert Family

During a press conference following the discovery, Strain's family thanked everyone who was involved in the two-week search. Strain's stepfather, Chris Whiteid, said the experience has “been an emotional roller-coaster” for the family.

“We're quite thankful for everything that you've done for our family,” he added. “The grace that you've given us, it means a lot, more than you'll ever know.”

Michelle Whiteid, Strain's mother, also spoke during the press conference. "I just ask that you mommas out there hug your babies tight tonight, please," she added. "Please, for me."

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Riley Strain's Stepfather Speaks Out

Man Last Seen At Luke Bryan's Bar Has Been Missing For Days
Whiteid and Gilbert Family

Strain's stepfather told the public that the family did their best to handle the situation “with as much grace and poise” as possible, but said it was “hard” at times.

He then thanked the people of Nashville for "the hugs, the prayers, the offers." "You don't understand how much that meant to us in some of our darkest hours," he said.

Strain's body was found by workers at a company on the river shortly after 7 a.m. on Friday, according to law enforcement.

"They removed something from the river and as they moved it they noticed Mr. Strain and called it in," Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake said. The police chief said that officers had planned to search this area of the river that same day.

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Luke Bryan’s Bar Releases Statement

Man Last Seen At Luke Bryan's Bar Has Been Missing For Days
MEGA

According to a previous statement from TC Restaurant Group, which oversees Bryan’s bar, Strain was only served one alcoholic beverage.

“During Riley’s visit to Luke’s 32 Bridge, our records show he purchased and was served one alcoholic drink and two waters," the statement read. "At 9:35 p.m., our security team made a decision based on our conduct standards to escort him from the venue through our Broadway exit at the front of our building."

Adding, "He was followed down the stairs with one member of his party. The individual with Riley did not exit and returned upstairs.”

Delta Chi and the University of Missouri Release Statements

Newly Released Video Shows Riley Strain Speak To Police On The Night He Vanished
Whiteid and Gilbert Family

After police confirmed his death, Delta Chi and the University of Missouri released statements about Riley Strain.

"Our hearts go out to Riley's family and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time as we work to provide support and resources to all those affected by this tragedy," the fraternity said.

"As the Mizzou community mourns Riley, we are keeping his family in our thoughts and offering support," the university said.

Nashville Mayor Freddie O'Connell released a statement, taking to social media to say, "This is not the outcome that anyone hoped for – especially his parents and everyone who loved him."

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Strain's stepfather previously told ABC News that the family had already begun thinking their son was not going to be found alive. "Put yourself in our shoes. Everybody knows it. Everybody's thinking it," he told the outlet.

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