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Man dies from fall at Buffalo National River

A Springfield, MO man died from a fall in the Indian Creek drainage of Buffalo National River on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

At approximately 4:49 p.m., Buffalo National River’s dispatch center was notified of a hiker who had fallen near the Eye of the Needle in the Ponca Wilderness. Brad Lee Thomas, 46, was hiking with a group in this undeveloped wilderness area when he fell approximately 20 feet. Dispatchers were advised that Mr. Thomas was unresponsive and that CPR was in progress.

Witnesses conducted CPR and rendered aid until rangers and first responders arrived on scene. Lifesaving efforts continued but were unsuccessful.

Deep condolences go out to Mr. Thomas’s family and friends. The National Park Service also expresses its thanks to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Mennonite Disaster Service, BUFFSAR volunteers, Arkansas National Guard, Harrison Fire Department, Newton County Office of Emergency Management, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, and the Newton County Baptist Church for their assistance during this incident.

Rangers have responded to multiple hiking accidents in the Indian Creek drainage over the past month. This undeveloped backcountry area includes extremely technical, loose and slippery footing, and steep terrain. Even the most experienced hiker is susceptible to injury. Hikers should be equipped for self-rescue, as emergency response can take several hours at this location.

Please visit the park’s website at to find out more about the trails in the park.

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