Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer commented in a press release about the almost week long search for a missing hiker in the Caney Creek Wilderness area of Polk County, and the dramatic rescue that thousands listened to live on a stream of the two way radio channel used by rescue workers provided by KAWX Radio. (To listen to the rescue recording, click anywhere on this line, then click on the play button.) Lost or injured hikers are not unusual in the area, but one missing for almost a week is, and the search and eventual rescue of Josh McClatchey caught the attention of the country with news outlets all over the United States and even abroad reporting on it.
McClatchey being loaded into a waiting SW EMS ambulance for transport to Mena regional Health Systems.
The Press Release is below.
Polk County Sheriff's Office
Ref: Josh McClatchey
Missing hiker Josh McClatchey (age 38) was located by Polk county Search teams late Friday night 6/7/19. McClatchey had been missing since Saturday 6/1/19 in the Caney Creek Wilderness when he became lost of the Buckeye Trail in the wilderness south east of Mena, Arkansas.
McClatchey was spotted by an Arkansas National Guard helicopter with the aid of FLIR technology. Sheriff Scott Sawyer said "The aircrew first located him about 1 mile south of the Caney Creek trail at about 9:00 p.m. He was heading north. Once he was spotted Chief Deputy Randy Jewell, USFS Joe Liles, and Arkansas Game and Fish Officer Ray Hines gathered up a team and we guided then towards McClatchey from the air. They sprinted 2.7 miles down a very treacherous trail in about 45 minutes. It was very impressive watching them from the air."
The helicopter had to leave to refuel before McClatchey was located. It was off scene for approximately 25 minutes before returning. "McClatchey was still moving north when we returned and it took about 30 minutes for us to reacquire him from the helicopter. Once we spotted him again, the search teams had to scale a steep ridge in the dark to locate McClatchey."
Rescuers finally made contact with McClatchey at around 11:30 p.m. Friday night. It toll about 3 1/2 hours to get him off the mountain and then carry him back to the trailhead. From there McClatchey was reunited with his family and transported to Mena Regional Health Systems.
Sheriff Sawyer stated "The team work, the dedication, and the effort pit out by these Rescue teams was truly remarkable. I'd like to thank my Deputies, the Polk County Judge and OEM, The USFS, the Arkansas Game and Fish, the Arkansas State Parks, the Grant County and other SAR teams, ADEM, the Arkansas National Guard, Governor Hutchinson, the Mena Fire Department, and SW EMS for their hard work and professionalism".
McClatchey was treated at Mena Regional Health Systems for dehydration and a cut on his head and released.