A Benton County dive team recovered a missing teenager’s body Tuesday night after searching for a few hours near the Siloam Springs’ Whitewater Recreation Park, a city spokeswoman says.
Officials are calling the incident an accidental drowning.
Authorities were called to the park around 4:20 p.m. in reference to the missing 16-year-old boy, said city spokeswoman Holland Hayden. Officials closed down the park, and a Benton County dive team was called to search the water. City officials announced around 7:50 p.m. the teenager’s body had been found and his parents had been notified.
The boy’s body was pulled from the Illinois River shortly afterward, about 200 yards downstream from the park, Hayden said.
At least 100 visitors were at the park at the time of the drowning.
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office and Siloam Springs police were also on scene. Officials are not yet releasing the name of the teen, but said he is from Siloam Springs.
Hayden said authorities are unsure how the boy drowned or whether he was wearing a life jacket.
The Walton Family Foundation invested $2 million into the Whitewater Park, which is set for a June 28 grand opening. It has been accepting visitors since January, Hayden said.
The park includes 600 feet of engineered river. Kayaks, tubes and canoes are accepted on the river, but Hayden said free swimming is not recommended through the rapids.
The park does not offer life jackets, but Hayden said officials recommend all visitors bring one.
“Everybody needs some type of a personal floatation device, whether it’s a life jacket or something else,” she said. “But everybody needs to be wearing it, whether they are in a tube, whether they are in a boat, a kayak or anything. They need to be doing that.”