A visitor called the park on the afternoon of March 23rd and reported that a teenager had fallen 15 to 20 feet while exploring off-trail and was lying unconscious in a stream in the Natural Bridge area in Lost Valley. Buffalo National River Search and Rescue (BUFFSAR) was conducting high angle rescue training at Kyles Landing, which is approximately 30 minutes distant from the incident scene, and responded immediately along with an ambulance service from NorthArk Medical Center in Harrison.
The boy appeared to have sustained head and shoulder injuries and was suffering from hypothermia. After stabilization, he was transported via wheeled litter and ATV to the waiting ambulance. BUFFSAR members were staged along the trail to facilitate transfer. Although initially unable to fly due to weather, a medevac helicopter was dispatched from Harrison, arriving at a pullout on Highway 43. The teenager was transferred from the ATV to the ambulance for transport to the helicopter and was flown to Washington Regional Hospital, Fayetteville.
In addition to the NPS BUFFSAR team, NorthArk Ambulance, and Airevac Helicopter, rescuers included representatives from the Jasper Fire Department, Ponca Volunteer Fire Department, Lost Valley Canoe Rental, the United States Forest Service, and a Boxley Valley resident. The Boxley valley resident has a farm near Lost Valley and has repeatedly assisted the park with rescue efforts, often using his ATV to transport injured visitors down the trail. A total of 36 responders were involved.