COLUMBUS — Cherokee County authorities began searching area strip pits Tuesday night for two Joplin men after their families reported they didn’t return home after a day of fishing.

About 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, a Cherokee County deputy sheriff located the vehicle they had been in at Mined Wildlife Land No. 40, northwest of Columbus, near Northwest 70th and StarValley Road.

Authorities then recovered the bodies of Robert Sleep, 70, and Stephen LeMasters, 71, in the water.

The initial investigation indicates both men fell through ice and drowned.

Although no foul play is suspected, autopsies will be conducted in Kansas City.

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