A ceremony was held Saturday (Nov. 2) in honor of Joel Campora, a wildlife officer for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, who died earlier this year while attempting to rescue two women from rising flood waters in Scott County with Sheriff Cody Carpenter.
Before his death, Campora found the bald eagle badly wounded with a broken wing. Campora took the eagle to his friend Thomas Young, who works at Ouachita Mountian Rehab as a wildlife rehabilitator, in hopes that someday the eagle would fly again.
"This [eagle] has a lot of extra meaning to me because Joel brought her to me and so I just really feel a special bond with this eagle to get her back airborne because that`s what Joel would have like to have seen," Young said.
Young said the eagle had to go through extensive surgery to be able to take flight.
"This one was hit by a car and had a broken humerus bone in her wing," Young said prior to the release, holding the eagle in his arms. "She’s got titanium pins and it was very complicated compared to most of the eagle rehabilitations that I do. But she’s ready to go."
Nearly a hundred people, including friends and family of Campora's were able to make it to Lake Ouachita to see the eagle be released.
"For [Campora] and his family, we just send prayers and blessings that they can continue to bring honor to him and his life that he shined on this world and so we give thanks," said Ossi Hata, an Indian from the Choctaw Nation who performed at the ceremony.
"I know if Joel could be here he would’ve been here for this," Young said. "It was always important to Joel to get wildlife back in the wild."
Those involved said they picked Lake Ouachita because there are several eagles that fly there and plenty of fish for them to eat.