A Sinkhole Swallows a Kayak in Arkansas, Leaving One Dead
SEARCY COUNTY, AR. — June 13,2018
Officials with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission confirmed in a statement that a man was killed on Saturday afternoon in "a fatal boating accident" when the sinkhole opened up near the Spring River's Sadler Falls near Dead Man's Curve.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokesman Trey Reid said on Monday that the victim had been identified as Donald Wright, 64, from Searcy, Arkansas. Reid said witnesses reported that when the sinkhole opened and formed the whirlpool, boaters were ejected from their boats. The victim, who was in a kayak, paddled toward the whirlpool to try to help them. Wright was dressed in a life jacket and was an experienced kayaker, but the river was stronger. Another man was able to get out.
According to geologists, sinkholes occur when groundwater dissolves bedrock – such as carbonate rock, limestone or salt beds – creating open spaces underground. When the ground can no longer support itself, it collapses, creating a depression – or a sinkhole. When this happens underwater, it can create circular currents, such as whirlpools.
The 90 km-long river, which runs through Arkansas and Missouri, is known for water sports, such as canoeing, kayaking and rafting, and fishing.
Workers from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Fulton County installed buoys on Saturday to secure the area around the whirlpool, according to the statement from the commission.
The commission said that local residents and tourists can still access Spring River but should avoid the barricaded area.
US Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Laurie Driver said in a statement on Monday (Tuesday NZT) that the agency is working with the county to help find a solution.
"We are assisting the county by providing contact information for agencies which may be able to assist with the sinkhole on the Spring River," it read. "Our Regulatory Division will reach out to the county to provide information on the permitting requirements which may be needed in conjunction with any repair."