A 16-year-old male from Newport has drowned on the Buffalo National River at Grinders Ferry, according to the National Parks Service (NPS). NPS reports the drowning occurred Monday afternoon, and his identity will not be released due to him being a juvenile.Authorities received a report of a swimmer in distress at 5:15 p.m. The caller said the teen attempted to swim across the river in a swift and deep current. Witnesses said the boy began to struggle and “went underwater as he neared the other side of the river, never resurfacing.” NPS notes the swimmer was not wearing a life jacket.
Rangers arrived on scene at 5:45 and began a search via boats, while the Searcy County Sheriff’s Office and its dive team responded a short time later. Divers recovered the teen’s body at 7:45 in 10 to 15 feet of swift and murky water.
The NPS issued a statement to all visitors to the Buffalo National River on being cautious with the river in its current state of high water.
“Currents and underwater obstructions exist in rivers and creeks, making swimming more challenging,” rangers say. “Cold-water temperatures can be shocking to the body, causing physical reaction times to slow. Please ensure that you and your family are familiar and competent in these natural environments before swimming.
“Competency includes being able to independently resurface after unexpectedly going underwater, stay afloat, change position, and swim a distance to get out of the water safely. Prevent drownings by wearing life jackets and closely supervising children,” rangers add.
NPS says the river level was “moderate” at the time of the incident. Visit ar.water.usgs.gov/buffaloriver/ to view current river levels.