A fishing trip claims the life of a popular morehead state employee.
State Police believe 53-year-old Michael Padula accidentally drowned while fishing at Triplett Creek in Rowan County Saturday.
Search crews found his body around five Sunday morning nearly six hours after someone reported him missing.
On the north fork of Triplett Creek, the fish can be seen jumping from time to time, and Mike Padula knew that. People living nearby frequently saw him visiting the spot to do some fishing.
"If he wasn't working, he was in the woods. That was one of his greatest joys," said Joe Fraley, a long-time co-worker of Padula.
Fraley has worked with Padula at Morehead State University's farms for years.
"He's a wonderful friend, more than just a co-worker. He's been a life-long friend. He comes to work everyday with a smile," Fraley said.
Fraley says along with being a farm maintenance supervisor, one of Padula's greatest joys was giving tours to visiting school groups.
"Just a wonderful friend, and supporter of our program and our students. As you know, they all called him Uncle Mike. And we called him that at work as well," noted Fraley.
"What's really awesome, is to see the kids coming to school now, that remember him giving them the tour," Fraley noted.
And he says the loss of such a dynamic presence will leave a gap on the farm, and in their hearts, for years to come.
"You don't replace a Mike Padula," said Fraley.
The Rowan County coroner says Padula's history of epilepsy is being considered in the investigation.