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Clay County man dies while hunting mushrooms

CLAY COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Billy Bays' family says he loved to spend time with nature in these Clay County hills hunting for ginseng and mushrooms. It's something he'd often share with his mother, Julie Ellen Holland.

"Me and him would go and we go miles. I mean I know I'm feeble but I'd go right with him," Holland said. Sadly, though, it's something they'll never share again.

"It's rough. It's hard to lose one like that you know. Sure is," she said.

Bays set out Saturday morning around 9:00 on his own.

"He was supposed to have been back home about 3:30. He never returned," Holland said.

Emergency management workers and sheriff's deputies started searching the hills yesterday evening, but because rattlesnakes and dangerous terrain at nightfall, they had to suspend the search.

"I could not close my eyes to sleep last night," Holland said.

Bays' family says the lack of answers overnight was awful. They didn't know if he'd had an accident or someone had done something to him. This morning, his brother joined the search party and found him in a familiar spot.

"Looked like he had been sitting on this big rock that me and him sat on. Me and him had sat on that same rock," Holland said.

The Clay County coroner said it appeared Bays suffered a sudden heart attack. Bays was 42, but as any mother would understand, he was still Julie Ellen's baby.

"I've got five more children, but this was my baby and miss him. I miss him so bad," she said.

Britton Funeral Home in Manchester is handling the funeral arrangements.

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