Missing hiker from Baton Rouge area found alive in Arkansas

A missing hiker from the Baton Rouge area has been found alive following a days-long search in Arkansas.
Published: Oct. 29, 2022 at 11:13 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2022 at 5:24 PM CDT

PONCA, Ark. (WAFB) -A missing hiker from the Baton Rouge area has been found alive following a days-long search in Arkansas.

Officials said Clinton “Preston” Smith, 67, was found alive around noon on Tuesday, Nov. 1, in the Buffalo National River area of Newton County, Arkansas. They added that he was found near the river about 2.5 miles from a trail.

“I was sitting at my desk and I was still trying to comprehend this, and the phone rings and it’s his wife. She said, ‘Kevin, Kevin,’ and she is screaming and I said, ‘yes,’ and she says, ‘he is alive,’” explained Kevin Lang, who is a lifelong friend of Preston Smith.

RELATED STORY: HIKER FOUND! Rescue crews locate missing hiker along Buffalo National River missing for several days

Lang says Smith loves the outdoors. Smith went on a trip with a few family members and planned a hike. Lang says he never imagined it would take searchers four days to find his friend.

“We started this search Friday evening was the initial call to my office. We got the park service involved at that point. We started searching that evening, did some….searching that bled into the next several days,” said Sheriff Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith setting off on a hike on Thursday, Oct. 27, according to officials. They added his family reported him missing about a day later.

Two U.S. Park Ranger pickup trucks are parked on pavement. Emergency service trailers can be...
Two U.S. Park Ranger pickup trucks are parked on pavement. Emergency service trailers can be seen in the background.(NPS Photo/L. Stoops)

Officials and volunteers in Arkansas searched for four days along the Hemmed-in-Hollow trail within the Buffalo National River area. Search efforts included volunteers on the ground and in the air.

“That area that he was located, the area that he would have had to pass through to get to where he was located had been searched to some extent. However, it’s really big country, really rugged country, and it takes some time to just search an area once is not enough. Sometimes, we go back and search those areas multiple times,” added Wheeler.

Emergency crews are delivering first aid, food, and water to Smith.

Search and rescue personnel sit around tables during a morning briefing.
Search and rescue personnel sit around tables during a morning briefing.(NPS Photo/L. Stoops)

According to Newton County Sheriff Glenn Wheeler, Smith has no significant injuries and was able to speak with search crews. Crews believe Smith was trying to find his way back while crews searched for him.

“When you know people and if you know there’s a will there’s a way, you have trust in people. I have trust in that man, and I just kept saying you know until someone proves me otherwise, I think he is out there fighting and he was,” added Lang

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