|Monday, Jun 6, 2011|
The body of a missing 21-year-old Wisconsin man was recovered from the Buffalo River on the evening of Saturday, May 28th, concluding a joint search effort by dozens of agencies that spanned five days. The search began on the evening of Tuesday, May 24th, when Midwest Region Ozark Communications Center dispatch received a report that the man had disappeared after attempting to swim across the rain-swollen river (then flowing at 3,400 cubic feet per second) in the Blue Hole area of the Upper Buffalo District. An eyewitness in his party told rangers that she saw him struggle, disappear underwater, reappear unresponsive on the surface, and then get swept around a bend by the swift current. Park staff responded along with personnel from Newton and Boone County Sheriff's Offices, a dozen volunteer fire departments, two dive rescue teams, several neighboring county and volunteer SAR teams, the Harrison Fire Department’s swiftwater rescue team, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas State Police, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, and numerous local private citizens. Tactics included surface searches from paddle craft and motorboats, dog teams, dive operations, overflights, sonar and underwater sweeps, ground searches of shorelines and previously inundated islands, and multiple boat-supported dragging operations. Over the course of the search, the water level of the river dropped and its clarity and visibility increased, which enabled a team of five to see the victim lodged under a mid-channel strainer in waist-deep water near a large island a half-mile downstream of the point last seen.