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Newport teen drowns at Buffalo National River



NORTHWEST ARKANSAS- A 16-year-old boy from Newport drowned in the Buffalo River Monday evening.

According to a news release from the National Park Service, Buffalo National River dispatch heard a swimmer was in distress in the park’s Middle District at Grinders Ferry.

According to National Park Service officials, a 16-year-old boy tried to swim across the river in a deep and swift current.

Witnesses say the boy began struggling as he swam and went underwater as he approached the other side of the river. According to witnesses, the boy never resurfaced.

Officials say the boy was not wearing a life jacket.

National Park Service Rangers began searching with motorized boats at approximately 5:45 p.m.

According to the release, divers began searching at approximately 6:50 p.m.

According to officials, the teen’s body was found in 10 to 15 feet of swift and murky water at approximately 7:45 p.m.

“Currents and underwater obstructions exist in rivers and creeks, making swimming more challenging,” National Park Service officials say. “Coldwater temperatures can be shocking to the body, causing physical reaction times to slow. Please ensure that you and your family are familiar and competent in these natural environments before swimming. Competency includes being able to independently resurface after unexpectedly going underwater, stay afloat, change position, and swim a distance to get out of the water safely. Prevent drownings by wearing life jackets and closely supervising children.”

The river level was “moderate” at the time of this incident. Visit the USGS website at to view current river levels. To report an emergency please call 911 or the park’s 24-hour dispatch center at 1-888-692-1162.

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