At approximately 6 p.m. on May 6 notification was received by Buffalo National River dispatch that a swimmer was in distress in the park’s Upper District, at Pruitt.

Four men went to Pruitt yesterday evening. Two of the men swam across the river to a rope swing and the other two men remained on the bank. One of the men on the bank slipped into the river and became distressed. The other man on the bank entered the river to try and rescue the first man when he became distressed himself. The two men at the rope swing then swam back across the river and were only able to rescue one of the distressed swimmers. At approximately 11 pm last night the body of Allen Buberwa, 22, was recovered by the Mennonite Disaster Services and Christian Aid Ministries Dive Teams. Allen, from Tanzania, was a student at North Arkansas College in Harrison.

In addition to park staff, the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, Hasty Volunteer Fire Department (VFD), Krooked Kreek VFD, Harrison Fire and Rescue, Air Evac Life Team, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center EMS, Newton County Office of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross all assisted with the search effort and provided support to the victim’s friends.

The river level was “high” at the time of the incident. Please call the Tyler Bend Visitor Center at 870-439-2502 between 8 am and 4:30 pm to inquire about current river levels and conditions or visit the USGS website at The public is also welcome to borrow life jackets from the Tyler Bend Visitor Center, Buffalo Point or Steel Creek Ranger Stations. A variety of sizes are available for children and adults. To report an emergency please call the park’s 24-hour dispatch center at 1-888-692-1162.

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