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Three Rescued From Car Hanging On Mountainside

Buffalo National River

National Park News

Rangers Ben Henthorne and Billy Bell responded to a motor vehicle accident outside of park jurisdiction at the request of Arkansas State Police on August 3rd. The driver of the vehicle had veered off of the road at a scenic overlook, driven over a parking bollard, and then gone through a wooden split rail fence and down the side of a mountain. When the rangers arrived on scene, the vehicle was out of sight due to thick vegetation. Due to the extreme angle of the slope, Henthorne and Bell rigged a hand line to aid in efforts to reach the vehicle and asked an NPS fire crew stationed nearby to bring extra SAR gear.  Bell took an EMS bag and began down the mountain, followed shortly thereafter by Henthorne. They found that all the vehicle’s occupants – a grandfather, grandmother and their five-year-old grandson – were unharmed and safe with their seat belts still on. The vehicle was situated about 200 to 250 feet down the side of the mountain and had come to rest tangled in greenbriers and grape vines. The thick vines had kept the vehicle from careening off a ten-foot ledge and striking a large tree. It appeared to the rangers the vines were the only thing holding the vehicle in place, so they quickly removed the occupants. With everyone safely out of the vehicle, Henthorne carried the child up the mountain. Bell, assisted by fire crew members, set up a low angle rope system with a prussic belay. Fire crew members went down the mountain, placed safety harnesses on the grandparents, and aided them in their climb up. The grandfather told rangers he believed flip-flops were to blame for the accident. Never having driven in flip-flops, he believes they caused his foot to slip off the brake and onto the gas, sending them over the edge.



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