PONCA (KFSM) – Two University of Arkansas students helped rescue an 18-year-old man from Jonesboro after he fell and injured himself on Monday (July 14) while hiking near Ponca, officials say.
The man slipped and fell while attempting to cross a rock gap at the top of Eden Falls, which is off the Lost Valley trail at Buffalo National River approximately 35 miles southeast of Huntsville, according to a news release.
The victim fell 10 feet before he was stopped for a moment by a ledge, but wet conditions caused him to slip and fall another 15 to 20 feet after that, the release states.
His companions lost sight of him after his final fall, but he was assisted by two University of Arkansas students identified as Cameron Cheri and Kenny Lewis, according to the release.
Due to a lack of cell phone coverage, hikers had to travel out from Lost Valley to call Buffalo National River dispatch. Once the call was received, Buffalo River Search and Rescue (BUFFSAR) were dispatched to the location of the injured man, with the University of Arkansas students helping in the recovery, the release states.
Cheri and Lewis led a BUFFSAR volunteer and EMT worker named Chad Wilt to the injured man’s location in a slot canyon between the Upper and Lower Eden Falls. The man was “badly injured,” and although he was conscious, he did not remember the events of the fall, according to the release.
BUFFSAR personnel performed a high-angle rescue to bring the victim back to the trail that leads up to the top of Eden Falls. He was then evacuated partly by a team of rescuers and partly by an all-terrain vehicle and trailer, operated by a local resident, the release states.
The victim was taken to Compton by ambulance and then airlifted to Mercy Hospital in Springfield. He is in intensive care but stable condition, according to the release.