Missing boys found alive on Howard Co. river - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Missing boys found alive on Howard Co. river

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Safe and sound: 10-year-old Joseph Clark (L) and 11-year-old Preston Pierce pose for a picture with one of the wildlife officers with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission involved in search. Safe and sound: 10-year-old Joseph Clark (L) and 11-year-old Preston Pierce pose for a picture with one of the wildlife officers with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission involved in search.
Search crews gather to coordinate the rescue effort after the boys were spotted on the bank of the Cossatot River Thursday morning. Search crews gather to coordinate the rescue effort after the boys were spotted on the bank of the Cossatot River Thursday morning.
Lake Gillham in Howard County, Arkansas Lake Gillham in Howard County, Arkansas
The Cossatot River is known as a difficult whitewater stream to canoeists and kayakers. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) The Cossatot River is known as a difficult whitewater stream to canoeists and kayakers. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
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HOWARD COUNTY, AR (KSLA) -

Two boys missing in Howard County, Arkansas have been found alive along the banks of the Cossatot River, which empties into Gillham Lake northeast of DeQueen.

Arkansas State Police had been searching for the 11-year-old Preston Pierce of Queen City and 10-year-old Joseph Clark of Ashdown in the Gillham Lake area after they went floating down the Cossatot River from the campground where they were staying and never returned.

The Cossatot River is known as a difficult whitewater stream to canoeists and kayakers.

Family members grew concerned when the boys still hadn't shown up by around 7 p.m. Search crews were assembled and the search continued through the night and into Thursday morning.

They were finally spotted by a ground search crew around 9 a.m. near a wooded area along  riverbank about a mile and a half down the river from the campground. "They were sitting down with their life jackets still on," says Howard County Sheriff Deputy Bryan McJunkins, "and they did what they what they needed to do to save their lives last night."

An Arkansas State Police helicopter helped guide a crew in a canoe out to the bank where the boys were stranded and brought them to safety. Both boys were checked out by paramedics and found to be unharmed after spending the night on the riverbank, fending off snakes.

"The scariest part was probably when it was getting dark and we started hearing noises and we didn't know what they were and we freaked out," recalls Joseph.

"I thought I was going to die," says Preston.

The boys told police they were floating down the river in their life jackets Wednesday, when they became caught in the currents and got carried further downstream than planned.

The boys say they had just met at the campgrounds, where they were staying at neighboring sites. They say the experience bonded them and they'll likely remain lifelong friends.

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