Inv. Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said the search of the Buffalo River for 65 year old Rick Norber has been suspended due to impending weather and water conditions.
“Our area is extremely saturated after all the recent rains and a small shower upstream of the operations earlier today caused a two inch rise in the river at the Ponca river gauge. We ceased operations a little before dark this evening and, if we get the rain they are forecasting, we won’t be able to resume searching for several days. We just can’t justify putting searchers on the water if we get the rise in water levels we are expecting.” Wheeler continued “Once the river has crested and is back at safer levels, we will resume searching on a smaller scale.”
Norber went missing early Wednesday morning on a canoeing trip when his party was trapped by flood waters in an area known as “Hell’s Half Acre” above Kyles Landing.
Sheriff Keith Slape said “It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to find Rick, but these conditions are just beyond our control. Investigator Wheeler has been in contact with the family and they understand the situation. Our hearts go out to them.”
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office had been joined by the National Park Service, Harrison Fire Department, Newton County OEM, Tri-County Search and Rescue, Mennonite Disaster Services, Christian Aid Ministries, The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and their dive team, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Mt. Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, Hasty Volunteer Fire Department, Personnel from Lost Valley Canoe Rental, The Arkansas Canoe Club, Carroll County OEM, K-9 units from around the state and the American Red Cross.