First of all, our family would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support through this difficult matter.
My father-in-law is a nature photographer that has traveled all over the United States and was currently working on a series of Arkansas’ beauty. He left his home in Rogers at about 3am Thursday to go to photograph Twin Falls in a remote area of the Ozark National Forest. The falls are located about about 3 miles from where he parked but the terrain is very rugged and it took him 2.5 hours to hike in.
Shortly after arriving at the falls he was standing on a bluff at the top of the falls scouting the location and a way to hike around to where he would take some pictures. The ground was very wet from all of the recent rain and the bluff crumbled below him causing him to fall 30ft to the creek below. This was around 2pm.
He often hikes out to these photo shoots alone and recently invested in a SPOT GPS messenger to carry with him for emergency. This device has three options for messages: OK (everything is alright), Help (need assistance but I am OK) and 911 (need assistance and I am injured). Around 230 he pressed the 911 button which sent out a distress signal to the Air Force who then contacted the proper authorities in the area.
It was around 330-400 before the search and rescue were able to assemble and head into the woods. The terrain was very rugged, which made it a very difficult task to find Ed even though they had his GPS coordinates. There were initially three separate groups sent in to search for Ed but one of them got lost and lost radio contact with everyone else so they had to hike out and regroup.
The first group finally made contact with Ed at about 840pm. At this point he has been laying in the creek for 7hrs and the temperature dropped quickly when the sun went down. This group did not have a backboard so all they could do was get him out of the water and warm him up with a campfire while they waited for a group with a board.
Around 10pm they had him on a board and were ready to begin the trek out of the forest. There was a road about 1.7 miles away so they went that way but could not get up the bluffs and hills. At about 245am they decided to turn around and head out the way they came in, which was now almost 4 miles.
They finally made their way out at about 930am and took Ed to the helicopter to fly him to Washington Regional in Fayetteville.
He is in very good spirits and is in a pretty good bit of pain but is thankful to be alive. His injuries were a broken collarbone, shattered ankle and an open book pelvic fracture. He had a surgery at Washington Regional Friday afternoon to clean out his leg to reduce the risk of infection. They cut off the part of the bone that was sticking out and put an external fixator on his leg to hold it in place.
He spent Saturday in Fayetteville visiting with friends and family for most of the day. This was a huge encouragement for all of us. He was transported to St Francis in Tulsa on Sunday afternoon where he will see a trauma specialist. His wife Faith and daughter Lizzy are there with him. Lizzy is my wife and is currently pregnant with Ed’s third grandchild. The third grandbaby should really boost his spirits even more in the next month.
As of right now he is scheduled to have his pelvic fracture repaired at 230 Tuesday and they will repair his ankle on Wednesday or Thursday. Everything is going very well considering the accident. He should be back in Northwest Arkansas next week to begin the recovery process.
I have setup and email address for anyone who would like to send a message to Ed. I will get these and take them to Ed later this week. The address is email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Mike Hall