After 105 Days of Sorrow, Family of Missing Boater Finds Closure

Dad's Body Found, Son Finds Closure

EDEN, NC -- 105 days.

105 days of sadness, grief, and pain for the family of James Russell Bateman.

It was 105 days ago, Memorial Day Weekend, when Bateman and his girlfriend were boating on Belews Lake.

His girlfriend told authorities his hat fell in the water.

Bateman then jumped in to retrieve it but never made it back.

Authorities found his body Thursday.

Bateman’s son, Trey, says it was a day his family has been both waiting for and dreading.

"It feels kind of like I was holding my breath for those 105 days,” said Bateman. “You don't necessarily realize how tense you feel all of the time until it's over."

Bateman says his family has experienced so much grief and so much sadness over the last 3 and a half months, they were relieved to finally have some level of closure.

“There is a relief at finally having some level of finality and closure,” said Bateman. “We will talk about him and be able to laugh and rejoice in the fact that we have those memories. I think if we do that, then people who we will love that are gone don't die. They continue to influence us and influence who we are.”

Bateman was fighting back the tears on Friday, as he looked back at old pictures of his father.

"My dad tried to make people's lives around him better through being a kindhearted person,” said Bateman.

For the last 3 and a half months -- Trey has had to fight back tears a lot.

"Every life event that happens, I want to be able to call him and talk to him and tell him what's going on,” said Bateman. “I don't have a direct connection that I can hear his voice anymore. For the first week I wasn't doing well. Most of us weren't. Each day and each month got a little harder."

After Bateman went missing on Belews Lake, his friends, family, and his co-workers rallied to find him.

They donated money out their own pockets -- to buy new sonar equipment for the local rescue squad.

After searching land and water for 105 days -- authorities finally found his body Thursday.

"I don't think I ever imagined what people go through when they are waiting for something like this," said Bateman.

Jeff Dillion, Bateman’s former boss at Commonwealth Brands in Reidsville, says this whole process has been really difficult on Bateman’s family as well as his “work family.”

“It's been 105 days. 105 days too long for this family,” said Dillion. “But I think they have a little bit of closure.”

Bateman says it’s a relief knowing his father is finally in a better place.

He finds solace in the fact that the new sonar equipment might reduce the amount of suffering that the next family has to experience.

“It wouldn't do him honor to not try to help others with this,” said Bateman. “Being able to help the groups that do this kind of work, that's the meaning that we are trying to find in all of this.”

James Bateman was about to become a grandfather for the first time.

Trey and his wife are expecting to have a baby this November.

He will be named James Russell Bateman IV – after his late grandfather.

(© 2016 WFMY)


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