Nashville’s Mayor Voices Safety Concerns Following The Tragic Passing Of Riley Strain

Photos: Courtesy of WSMV & Crime With Bobby/Facebook

Sadly, on Friday, March 22, we received the tragic news: the two-week search for missing University of Missouri student Riley Strain concluded after his body was discovered in the Cumberland River.

Details Of The Discovery

Metro Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake reported that Strain’s body, found eight miles downstream from his last sighting, still wore the black and white shirt he had on when he disappeared on March 8, after being kicked out of Luke’s 32 Bridge in Downtown Nashville.

Despite the grim discovery, authorities assert no suspicion of foul play in the college student’s disappearance or subsequent demise, mere hours after recovering his body.

The initial report of Strain’s body came from barge operators conducting routine inspections near the river in The Nations area around 7:30 a.m. Utilizing a boat ramp at the North Nashville Exxon facility, first responders accessed the waterway and retrieved the body downstream.

“They noticed what appeared to be Riley Strain pop up,” Drake remarked, further stating that the Nashville Fire Department employed boats to extract the body from the river. “The medical examiner’s office reviewed the body, and we’ve confirmed that it is Riley Strain.”

RELATED: Riley Strain Was Found By Workers Pulling Debris From River, According To Police

Strain’s Family’s Emotional Response

Just hours after finding Riley, his family held a press conference and spoke publicly on the tragic news. They fought back tears as they expressed immense gratitude to all those who offered support and contributed to their cause.

Ryan Gilbert, Riley’s father, thanked all those who “helped keep Riley’s face in front of the camera.”

“You’ve helped us get some closure and let us take our boy home.”

Chris Whiteid, Strain’s stepfather, echoed the sentiment, saying, “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster…It has given us faith in people that sometimes gets clouded by what we are constantly hearing.”

Strain’s mom, Michelle Whiteid, also released a brief, but heartbreaking statement:

“I just ask that you mommas out there hug your babies tight tonight, please. Please for me, hug your babies tight tonight.”

Nashville Mayor’s Response

Following the discovery of Strain’s body, Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell took to social media, affirming the city’s commitment to “continue working towards improvements in safety in a variety of ways.”

“This is not the outcome that anyone hoped for – especially his parents and everyone who loved him,” O’Connell wrote.

Additionally, O’Connell voiced his concern for the safety of visitors to Nashville.

“I would say we share the goal with the Convention and Visitors Corporation of constantly investing in the safety of the city, particularly the entertainment district, because we want not just residents to be safe in their neighborhoods, whether or not they ever go to a honky tonk, but we also want visitors of the city to be safe.”

O’Connell emphasized his plan to boost river access barriers and aid navigation for late-night visitors.

“I’ve walked this stretch for decades, and I could certainly imagine there being barriers that made it harder to get from the sidewalk into the areas of growth that are right there along the river bank. I would say also just helping people with the basics of wayfinding. Through the years, we have had different types of things that show where you are downtown. I think making sure that it’s easy to find your way back to a hotel or to a residence. There are a couple different options.”

The University of Missouri also stressed the availability of resources for students and staff impacted by Strain’s death and disappearance.

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

Our deepest condolences go out to the loved ones of Riley Strain.

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