Victim identified in kayak accident on the Ouachita
Benton, ARK COURIER Tuesday, 09 June 2009
Ronnie Campbell, 55, of Benton died Sunday when his kayak was swept into the backwash on the Ouachita River near Jones Mill between Malvern and Hot Springs, authorities said. Campbell and two of his daughters reportedly put their kayaks in the river just below Remmel Dam before 3 p.m. Sunday, authorities said. Officials said the kayaks were pulled into the backwash caused by the dam’s open flood gates. One of Campbell’s daughters, whose name has not been released, was treated for injuries at Hot Spring County Medical Center. Authorities said she was pulled under water several times and had lost her life vest.
Around 2:58 p.m., the Malvern Fire Department, along with Morning Star Fire Department, ProMed Ambulance and LifeNet, were dispatched to the area below Remmel Dam in response to a swift water rescue call with possible victims in the water. Campbell’s daughter reportedly was clutching her life vest to stay afloat, authorities said. While attempting to tread water, a nearby fisherman saw what was happening and stepped into the river to assist the woman out of the water. Once out of the water, she said she had last seen her father by the dam. The rescue teams on scene were able to recover the three kayaks from the river. Ronnie Campbell’s kayak appeared to be damaged and his life jacket was recovered. Around 3:16 p.m., the Malvern Fire Department launched its rescue boat and began searching for Ronnie Campbell. Campbell’s daughter was transported to Hot Spring County Medical Center.
Around 3:32 p.m., representatives of Remmel Dam had closed all of the flood gates, reducing the water flow, to assist rescue workers in locating Ronnie Campbell. John Tanner of Tanner’s Wrecker Service provided air support by using his helicopter to fly over the river in an attempt to locate Ronnie Campbell. The Hot Spring County dive team began a search of the water near the area of the spillway in an attempt to locate Ronnie Campbell, but had negative results. At 6:30 p.m., John Tanner was asked again to fly over the area and attempt to locate the victim, but again without success. Around 7 p.m., the Magnet Cove Fire Department was contacted to help assist by conducting a land search along the river bank in an attempt to locate Ronnie Campbell. Around 8 p.m., John Tanner along with John Robbins, flying in an airplane over the area, located Ronnie Campbell’s body. The Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Department put a boat in the river downstream of that location where they were able to retrieve the victim’s body.