UNITY VILLAGE, Mo. — Family are mourning the man who drowned while fishing at a Unity Village lake last week.

In the last year, nearly 80 people have died in boating-related accidents or drownings, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. 

Diane Bray said her husband, Randy Bray, had gone fishing at the Unity Village lake many times. She never thought Thursday would be the last time she saw her husband.

“He was my rock,” Dianne Bray said. “He did everything for anybody.”

A man you could count on — that was Randy Bray.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said he drowned at a pond in the Unity Village area Thursday afternoon.  
He and a friend were in a boat. The sheriff said the boat tipped over and both on board went in the water. One swam to shore, Bray drowned. 

“I’m feeling numb,” Dianne Bray said.

Randy Bray was married to Dianne for 47 years. They have two children and four grandchildren.

The 69-year-old worked for his family and others, whether it was building a railing for a neighbor or spending 40 hours a week at American Legion 21. 

“Helping veterans,” Bray said, “keeping a post open for them to come to.”

Sgt. Andy Bell with Missouri State Highway Patrol said this time of year is tricky. It might be warm outside, but the water is still cold and could send muscles into shock.

“So those swimming abilities that you may have are going to be hampered” Bell said. “A lot of people just don’t swim, a lot of people aren’t comfortable in the water.”

Diane said Randy didn’t know how to swim but could tread water. At this point, it’s unclear if he was wearing a life vest. 

“It’s strongly advise that you do wear it,“ Bell said.

“I want to say all you people out there on boats, please be careful,” Bell said. “There ain’t nothing worse than not being able to say goodbye.“

Anyone under 7 must wear a personal flotation device at all times, unless they are in a cabin area. All other boaters are required to wear life jackets anytime they are underway. 

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