A man who drowned floating the Mulberry River over the weekend leaves his long-time girlfriend and four young children behind. Jeremy Sanders' body was recovered late Sunday night. Those who know the river best insist you must make safety a priority. "Wear your life jacket,” Brad Wimberly said. “You never know when you might fall out of the boat or hit your head or something.” If only the 30-year-old had heeded that warning he might still be alive. The father of four drowned while floating the Mulberry River Saturday evening. The Altus man's body wasn't found until the next night.
Those who frequently float the mulberry say safety is sometimes an afterthought for many. "They never wear life jackets up here it's almost like it's not manly,” David Mason, a kayaker told 5NEWS. Brad Wimberly, the owner of Turner Bend Store, says it's as simple as jumping into the water to cool off; not taking your life jacket off. “When it gets hot you know and the rv low yeah you'll see a lot of people that won't wear their life jackets,” Wimberly said. Others like Bill Bauman agree with him: "Pat and I have been floating this river for 30 years, and we've had our encounters but we always had our life jackets on." Bauman and his buddy Pat Hough not only wear flotation devices, they also stay safe by staying sober. Sanders had been drinking according to his brother. Along with life jackets and sobriety, checking river water levels is also important according to Wimberly. “If you're going to the Mulberry, or the Big Piney, or the Buffalo or wherever; the higher the water is in general the more difficult it is and the more power the current has,” Wimberly explained.
The victim’s brother Robert told 5NEWS that he had a long time girlfriend of 10 years and leaves behind 4 children. He says they're starting to ask tough questions that the family just doesn't have answers for and they're trying to shield them from media reports. Robert said his brother Jeremy was a good dad. Family members reported sanders missing after his kayak tipped over on a rapid near the Redding campground. The mother of Sanders' girlfriend claims he did have a life jacket on, but it was not fastened. The Johnson County dive team searched Saturday night and nearly all day Sunday for his body. Arkansas Game and Fish found the victim late last night.
The body of a man who disappeared on the Mulberry River while canoeing Friday was recovered Sunday night. The body of Jeremy Sanders, 30, of Altus was recovered from the Mulberry River at the Redding camp ground after a two-day search involving emergency personnel from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Johnson County Sheriff's Office and Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, according to a news release issued by Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen.
Sanders' friends and family contacted the Sheriff's Office at around 5 p.m. Friday and reported that Sanders had fallen into the Mulberry River when rapids overturned his kayak according to the news release. After entering the water, Sanders struggled to stay afloat, resurfacing a couple of times before going under completely, the news release states.
Emergency personnel searched into Friday night and throughout Saturday and Sunday. Divers with Arkansas Game and Fish recovered Sanders' body in the same area of the river where he was seen going under, the news release states. Sanders was not wearing a life vest and alcohol may have been a contributing factor, according to the news release.