Authorities in northern Arkansas investigate guide services after death while hiking near Buffalo National River

COMPTON, Ark. (KY3) – Authorities in northern Arkansas, including the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, are investigating illegal guiding services along the Buffalo National River (BNR) after the death of a Springfield hiker , Missouri, from the aftermath of a fall into the Indian Creek drainage of the Buffalo National River.

Brad Thomas, 46, died Saturday afternoon after falling near Needle’s Eye in the Ponca Wilderness Area. Death has shaken regular hikers in the area.

“It’s really sad to hear that someone came here to enjoy nature and see what Arkansas has to offer, and lost their life,” said Landon Ballard, a frequent hiker. of the region. “Just getting to know the area is so important – something I love to do. I have my map here. I like to study that before I go on the Trail and also take it with me.

Information released by the Newton County Sheriff shows an investigation into the guide service escorting Thomas, who did not have the proper license or insurance.

“Just do your due diligence to make sure they are who they say they are,” Sheriff Glenn Wheeler said. “Research the area before you come as we love people coming to visit the area, but this is serious business.”

This permit is called the Commercial Use Authorization (CUA). According to the National Park Service website, a CUA is required if you provide goods, assets, services, agreements, or other functions to park visitors.

“When you’re in the park, you need a little extra help. You might want to rent a canoe or kayak or go with a crew,” said Cassie Brandstetter, public information officer at the BNR “Information on all of our tests, preparations or companies authorized to provide these services can be found on our website or by calling us.”

Some frequent hikers say they use services like All Trais or Trail Link to familiarize themselves before heading out.

“Usually I try to find out how difficult it is, how far, how tiring it is; so I can decide if I’m fit or not,” said Robert Felischmann, who spent several years hiking in the Bavarian Alps in Germany. “Twenty years ago, the difficulty of a hiking trail wouldn’t have been my concern, but it becomes more important with age, and you can never be too prepared.”

BNR Rangers have responded to several hiking accidents in the Indian Creek watershed over the past month. It is described as an undeveloped backcountry area comprising extremely technical, loose and slippery terrain and steep terrain.

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