A man who was injured while hiking in the Buffalo National River (BNR) this past weekend had to be rescued, but not until the next day due to weather conditions. The 60-year-old from Bella Vista, whose name was not released, was hiking with his son when he suffered an injury and was unable to walk out on his own from a remote part of the Ponca Wilderness.
According to a press release from the BNR, responding park rangers were met with heavy fog and a thunderstorm moving through the area. After assessing the injury, weather conditions and considering the time of day, it was decided to conduct a rescue the following morning, due to safety concerns. Overnight gear was taken to the hikers, so they could shelter in place.
On Sunday morning, a multi-agency rescue team met at Compton Trailhead to coordinate the rescue. To avoid having to carry the injured man 6 miles, the team rappelled down a 20-foot bluff, placing the patient into an emergency rescue basket. He was then hauled up the vertical cliff. While remaining in the emergency rescue basket, the patient was then moved up 100 feet of steep terrain to the trail at the top of the bluff. Once at the trail, the patient was transported by a wheeled litter approximately 1 mile to a waiting rescue vehicle. After safely arriving at the Compton trailhead, the patient was transported to the hospital by his family members.
Agencies involved in the rescue included the Mennonite Disaster Service, Harrison Fire Department, BNR Search and Rescue, Newton County Sheriff’s Office and the private landowner that allowed rescuers access to the scene from his property.