Scott County Sheriff Found Dead During Severe Flooding
The search for Joel Campora, an Arkansas Game and Fish Warden concluded after river boats pulled onto shore.
The body of Scott County Sheriff Cody Carpenter was found around 8 a.m. Friday (May 31) after a major flooding event in Scott County, according to Arkansas Game and Fish spokesman Keith Stephens.
Law enforcement officials and volunteers with the Red Cross in Arkansas lined the road as Carpenter’s body was escorted back from where he was found.
Officials believe Campora and Sheriff Carpenter were working together on rescue efforts at a home off Highway 71 as storms moved in overnight.
“As they approached the residence, they noticed that flooding waters were rising rapidly and other deputies on scene heard a loud crash,” Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck, whose office is helping with the efforts, said Friday afternoon during a news conference.
Hollenbeck said the house imploded due to rising flood waters in Mill Creek. Carpenter’s body was found a mile downstream from a home where they received a 911 call.
“He was the best sheriff I’ve ever seen and that’s as far as I’ll go,” said Scott County Judge James Forbes.
The boat the two men used was found with all of its contents. The two women who were in the home that Sheriff Carpenter and Campora attempted to respond to are unaccounted for.
State Rep. Terry Rice, R-Ark., who’s known the sheriff’s family for many years, says the Sheriff Carpenter was always eager to reach out to people their time of need.
“He wasn’t satisfied behind the desk, and that was Cody,” Rice said. “He’s hands on, and that’s what he was doing in the early morning hours this morning is trying to help people.”
U.S. Senator John Boozman, R-Ark., issued the following statement on the sheriff’s passing: “Sheriff Carpenter, a dedicated public servant, gave his life trying to save those trapped by the terrible flooding in Western Arkansas. A leader who was never content sitting behind a desk, Sheriff Carpenter bravely put the safety of others before his own to protect those in harm’s way. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the community during this difficult time. We continue to pray for those missing as a result of the flooding. Please keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”
Flags were lowered to half-staff in Waldron as the community mourned the loss of the sheriff.
Hollenbeck said Friday during an afternoon news conference that the body of one woman was found in her car. She has not been identified.
Lt. Col. Keith Moore with the Arkansas National Guard said a Blackhawk helicopter was deployed around 8 a.m. from Robinson Air Force Base in North Little Rock to Scott County to assist in the rescue mission.
More than 200 officers from Sebastian County Search and Rescue, Logan County, the Arkansas National Guard and Arkansas Game assisted in the search.
Friday evening, Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department officials announced Highway 28 is closed to traffic from Parks to the Yell County line. Highways 270 and 71 were reopened to traffic near Y City earlier that afternoon.
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe declared Cross, Montgomery, Poinsett, Polk, Scott and Van Buren Counties state disaster areas due to damage caused by tornadoes, strong storms and flooding Friday.