On May 16th, 2023, Fidel Angel Salamanca Saravia, a 39 year old male from San Miguel, El Salvador, was lost in the Buffalo River.
At approximately 4:15 p.m. on May 16, Buffalo National River dispatch received notification that a swimmer was in distress at Grinders Ferry, a section of the river that is 10 miles north of Marshall. Fidel had waded into the river, lost his footing, and was swept under water by the river’s current, never resurfacing. He was not wearing a life jacket.
At approximately 4:40 p.m., National Park Service rangers arrived on scene and immediately began searching the area via motorized boats. Searcy County Sheriff’s Office and Searcy County Dive Team also responded, and divers searched the water until dark on May 16. National Park Service, Marshall Fire Department, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, Harrison Fire Department, Hasty Fire Department and Mennonite Disaster Services are a few of the organizations that have assisted during this incident.
The search will continue into the coming days. Volunteers are not needed at this time.
Though this is the first person lost on the Buffalo River in 2023, mere days before another incident occurred in the same location, resulting in the near drowning and hospitalization of multiple people. 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. To report an emergency please call 911 or the park’s 24-hour dispatch center at 1-888-692-1162.
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