BREAKING: The Body Of Missing 22-Year-Old Riley Strain Found In Nashville River

Strain’s body was found two weeks after he went missing.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

March 22, 2024


10:26 am

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Riley Strain; Photo Courtesy Riley Strain’s Family

Officials confirm that the body of 22-year-old Missouri student, Riley Strain, has been found in Nashville’s Cumberland River. This news comes two weeks after Strain was reported missing by his friends following a night out in Music City’s lower Broadway. 

WKRN reports that on the morning of Friday, March 22, authorities received a report of a body found in the river in the Nations neighborhood in West Nashville, approximately 8 miles from the downtown area. Once recovered, the Metro Nashville Police Department confirmed the identity to be the missing college student and revealed that “no foul play-related trauma was observed.” An autopsy is pending.

Peyton Kennedy, Good Morning Nashville & WKRN News 2 Reporter, took to X (formerly Twitter) to share updates on this morning’s events and wrote that according to information provided by the Nashville police, “Riley Strain was found wearing the same shirt he went missing in & there are no signs to suggest anything other than he simply fell into the river.”

The News Comes Nearly Two Weeks After His Disappearance

According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, the 22-year-old was last seen on Friday, March 8 at approximately 9:52 pm on Gay St. in Nashville after reportedly drinking downtown with friends at Luke Bryan’s bar, Luke’s 32 Bridge.

A 911 call was placed around 1:40 pm on Saturday, March 9, nearly 16 hours after Strain’s disappearance. At this time, he was reported missing, per Nashville’s WSMV.

“We’re here on a fraternity formal trip,” one of Strain’s friends tells the dispatcher in the call obtained by WSMV. “It’s one of my good buddies.”

“What is his name?”

“His name is Riley Strain … he’s white, 22-year-old 6′5″ blonde.”

Kicked Out Of Luke’s 32 Bridge

Luke's 32 Bridge; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Luke’s 32 Bridge; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Police released surveillance video showing Strain after he was kicked out of 32 Bridge. At this time, he was spotted crossing First Ave. to Gay Street. This was at 9:47 pm local time. 

Strain’s parents spoke with ABC News about their son following his disappearance. 

“He was excited ’cause he was out, and he was sending me pictures at the different bars they were going to. And he was having fun with his fraternity brothers,” Michelle Whiteid, Strain’s mother, told ABC News.

His father, Ryan Gilbert, added, “He’s a good kid. He was down here looking forward to a fun weekend. We want to bring him back home safe.”

The Nashville Bar Released A Statement

On Friday afternoon (Mar. 15), a representative for Luke’s 32 Bridge took to the bar’s social media to share additional information on the investigation of the missing 22-year-old University of Missouri student.

“In our effort to help the Nashville Metro Police Department’s Missing Persons investigation of Riley Strain, we proactively provided detailed information quickly after his visit to our business on March 8,” the statement began.

The establishment, which is owned and operated by Luke’s 32 Bridge, has reviewed all security footage, photos and bar transactions as well as took statements from bartenders and other 32 Bridge staff, who were working that evening. 

“This information included all security camera footage, photos of Riley at our establishment with detailed time stamps, transaction records, and staff accounts,” the statement continued.

The statement also clarified what happened inside the bar on Lower Broadway, according to official documents and security footage. “During Riley’s visit Luke’s 32 Bridge, our records show he purchased and was served one alcoholic and two waters. 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. He was followed down the stairs with one member of his party. The individual with Riley did not exit and returned upstairs.”

Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) recently launched an investigation into Luke’s 32 Bridge to determine if Riley Strain was overserved during his visit to the bar. 

“There are no specific rules or statutes that governs escorting out intoxicated patrons from their businesses or providing assistance in getting someone home. However, state law prohibits serving alcoholic beverages to someone who is visibly intoxicated. A violation is a class A misdemeanor. The TABC has opened an investigation into this matter to see if any violations have occurred,” TABC communication director Aaron Rummage shared with PEOPLE.

“We are investigating whether Mr. Strain was served alcohol while he was visibly intoxicated,” Rummage continued. 

As a result, TC Restaurant Group and Luke’s 32 Bridge assured that they were “proactively engaged in communication with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission” and promised to continue to communicate and provide any necessary records needed to help with the investigation. 

The search for Strain first began on the section of the Cumberland River that sits nearest the downtown area. Authorities included the aid of helicopters, boats and ground crews, but in recent days, focused mainly on waterways after Strain’s debut card was found along the river. The search eventually expanded to include the Cheatham Dam, which is about 40 miles from downtown Nashville, during which the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department worked closely with the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office to conduct downriver operations. CBS affiliate WTVF reported that police also “shut down the dam to inspect debris that floated to the surface.”

Many members of the Nashville community, as well as Strain’s family and the United Cajun Navy, a volunteer disaster relief organization, all participated in aiding in the search of Riley Strain. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.