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Drowning at Carver, Buffalo National River


On May 19 (2024), at approximately 5 p.m., Buffalo National River dispatch was notified of a possible drowning in the upper district of the river near Carver. Judy Henderson-Bailey, a 69-year-old female, from Topeka, Kansas, was floating in a private kayak that overturned after striking a tree in the river channel. After turning over in the water, the female was pulled under a submerged tree. Members of her floating party tried to extract her, but were unsuccessful. She was not wearing a personal floatation device at the time.
Buffalo National River would like to thank the Newton County Sheriff’s Office and the Hasty Volunteer Fire Department who also responded to the incident.
Currents, down trees, and underwater obstructions exist in rivers and creeks, which can make paddling more challenging. Buffalo National River offers a loaner life jacket program. You may borrow a life jacket from the Steel Creek Ranger Station, Tyler Bend Visitor Center, or Buffalo Point Ranger Station. Please call the Tyler Bend Visitor Center at 870-439-2502 to learn more.
The river level in this location was “low” at the time of this incident. Visit the USGS website at https://ar.water.usgs.gov/buffaloriver/ to view current river levels. To report an emergency please call 911 or the park’s 24-hour dispatch center at 1-888-692-1162.