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Missing Lake Mead boater identified as U.S. Airman

Missing Lake Mead boater identified as U.S. Airman

By Katie Crowther. CREATED Jun 25, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Park rangers are still searching Lake Mead for Antonio Tucker. The 28-year-old disappeared Saturday while boating on the lake. It is believed that he may have drowned.

Tucker was on a rental boat with his girlfriend and their young daughter when he went missing. Investigators say he jumped in for a swim and was not able to make it back to the boat.

Tucker is a U.S. Airman from Philadelphia. He's been stationed at Creech Air Force Base since 2008.

Tucker survived deployments around the world, including Afghanistan. That's why his family can't believe that a day on the lake may have caused his untimely death.

"It was a terrible accident on what was supposed to have been a nice family outing," says Tucker's mom, Catujita Baker.

Baker is now planning her son's funeral. She says the 28-year-old jumped off the boat, without a life jacket, as conditions on the lake were changing.

"He decided to go for a swim, and the winds picked up, and pushed the boat away from him," Baker describes.

"His girlfriend says she threw him a buoy or life vest of some kind, but he couldn't grasp it. He just couldn't get to it. She called 911. The winds kept pushing them further apart. She didn't know how to operate the boat, and she was distraught. He told her he didn't know whether or not he was going to make it, and she saw him go under."

Action News was there as the U.S. Coast Guard and park rangers first searched the water. Those crews say they won't stop until they find Tucker so they can help bring closure to his family.

Colonel James Hecker, Tucker's commander at Creech Air Force Base, says: "As a commander, this is one of the worst calls you can get, that you lost an Airman in a tragic accident. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and squadron members. Now, our focus is helping those who grieve, and continuing to emphasize safety to prevent other tragic accidents. He will be greatly missed. He truly made a difference to his fell Airmen and this mission. The squadron is not the same without him. I wish peace for his family, and all those who grieve."

A memorial service will be be held on base this Friday at 10 a.m. for Tucker's family and fellow military members.