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Contact: Caven Clark, 870/365-2790
Mr. Cameron McLaughlan, 21, of Ozark, Missouri was rock-climbing with a friend in the Hemmed-in-Hollow area of Buffalo National River's Ponca Wilderness yesterday when he fell approximately 25 feet from near the top of the bluff onto a ledge. His fall at about 2:45 pm rendered him immobile and his friend, Zach Collette of Springfield ran up the trail to where he had cell phone coverage. He reached 911 at about3:45 pm and the Buffalo National River Search and Rescue (SAR) team was activated shortly thereafter.
Searchers gathered at the Compton Trailhead and departed in groups down the trail to first locate the injured man and then decide the safest and most efficient means of transporting him. Although the day was warm and sunny, the early onset of darkness and later, a significant drop in temperature, made the operation challenging. The reporting party accompanied the third group of rescuers and assisted in locating the individual who was in the middle of a sheer bluff face. Some of the SAR group positioned themselves above the victim while others below. The "hasty team" of searchers accessed Mr. McLaughan via ropes and provided initial first aid. Using a litter, he was lowered about 30 feet down the bluff face to a waiting team who further transported him to the trail below. Here a single wheel was attached to the littler to facilitate transport back up the trail to the waiting ambulance which was reached at
3 am. Mr. McLaughlan was then transported to North Ark Regional Medical Center in Harrison for initial treatment.
In addition to the Buffalo National River protection rangers, groups participating in this operation included Alpena VFD, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Boone County Sherriff's Office, Carroll County Sherriff's Office Rescue Team, Compton VFD, Harrison Fire Department, Mennonite Disaster Services, National Park Service Fire Module, Newton County Sherriff's Office, North Ark Regional Medical Center Ambulance, Tri-County Search and Rescue, and the Steel Creek Campground Hosts. In all, about fifty-one people were involved in the operation. Hot food and beverages were provided by the Red Cross to the rescue party who were more than ready after a major exertion and a 30-degree temperature drop.