PONCA, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A 16-year-old boy from Ava, Missouri died on Saturday after falling while hiking with his church group near the Lost Valley Trail at Buffalo National River.
According to a release from the National Park Service on Monday, the unidentified male teen was hiking with a large group from his church at around 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 25, when he left the established trail near Eden Falls Cave and scrambled up a steep hillside near the cave entrance.
After losing his footing, the teenager reportedly fell approximately 20 feet, suffering traumatic head and spinal injuries.
Witnesses administered first aid and CPR until emergency personnel arrived on scene. The boy was unresponsive when National Park Service rangers and paramedics arrived, and lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful.
“The park staff and I extend our deepest condolences to this young man’s family and friends,” said park superintendent Mark Foust. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved and to the communities effected by such a tragedy. We are thankful for those who assisted during the incident, including the first responders, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center ambulance staff, Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Ponca Volunteer Fire Department, Harrison Fire Department, Mennonite Disaster Service, and the BUFFSAR volunteers.”
According to the National Park Service, the terrain in Buffalo National River can be rugged and steep, and off-trail travel is often dangerous. Visitors are asked to stay on established trails to avoid injury.