Missing Teen’s Body Recovered Near Siloam Springs Whitewater Park

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.”

11 comments

  • Ted

    100+ people here on a weekday afternoon could indicate this place is being used as a swimming hole and that is definitely not what it’s intended as. There are numerous rock obstacles, fast currents, and some water features that will grab and hold a boat or swimmer. Unless there are rules put in place to enforce PFD use or prohibit swimming near the rapids this death is just the first.

  • nicole a

    this “park” used to be a safe “swimming hole” for this community. It is being advertised as a whitewater park when in fact the changes to the river have been the direct cause of several injuries just in the last few weeks. Let’s be honest it was designed as a tourist attraction for” kayakers “to pull in extra money for the city with no reguard to the safety of those who will go there to swim. The currrent and flow of the river have been altered to enhance the thrill along with razor sharp limestone that cuts like glass ….. Hands down the worst investment yet for the city of siloam . A law suite sure to come

  • Heath Carr

    The drowning was not at park you have already edited the article on face book but not on tv this is give the park bad media attention the park boundary does not extend 300 yards down the creek!! The paddleing community has a lot to do with the park get the story straight don’t make yourselves look stupid!!

  • Unknown

    It’s a tragedy it really is, but I was there at the park when it happened. It did not happen at the park itself it happened 200 or 300 yards down the river by a rope swing. I only know this because my friends and I were asked to assist in trying to find the boy. The park is great fun but I would not recommend taken small children unless they are wearing a proper PFD.

  • Ted

    Thank you for those that have clarified where this drowning actually took place. This whitewater park has a great opportunity to be a real asset to the area. Any portion of the river can be dangerous as seen by the drowning just 2 weeks prior a few miles upstream.

  • sherrylykins5

    Please please stay out of the Arkansas river it is dangerous. I know this because my family lost our adult son who was a great swimmer. One adult fell in , another jumped in to save his friend, then my son went in after both the others they all died in Tulsa that day .I’m so proud of the two men who gave their lfes to help their friend sad yes but my two grandson won’t have their daddy which is so very hard they don’t really understand.

  • sherrylykins

    Please please stay out of the Arkansas river it is dangerous. I know this because my family lost our adult son who was a great swimmer. One adult fell in , another jumped in to save his friend, then my son went in after both the others they all died in Tulsa that day .I’m so proud of the two men who gave their lfes to help their friend sad yes but my two grandson won’t have their daddy which is so very hard they don’t really understand. And I’m so sorry about the young man who drowned.

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