Authorities retrieved the body of 20-year-old Shane Stauffer from the murky waters of Piney Creek Jan. 16.
Stauffer, who was reported missing Jan. 14, was found at approximately 9:45 a.m. in his red 2000 Chevrolet Blazer near the second low water bridge on Needmore Road in Izard County, two to three miles from the Sharp County line, according to Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver.
Stauffer, a student at the University of Central Arkansas who was home for the weekend, had been visiting friends at a residence west of Evening Shade in Izard County, Weaver said. Stauffer left his friend's home around 3 a.m. to return to his residence in rural Cave City, he said.
The university police worked with local authorities, checking Stauffer's dorm periodically; however, no one locally or in Conway had seen or heard from him since 3:10 a.m. Sunday when he called a friend, Weaver said.
Sharp County Reserve Officer Dwayne Engle, who is a friend of the Stauffer family, said he walked along the creek banks Monday evening with members of Stauffer's family, according to Weaver.
Weaver said Engle told authorities he noticed a ripple in the water at a low water bridge on Needmore Road. Engle returned to that location around 7 the following morning; there he noticed about 6 inches of the vehicle showing above the receding waters, he said.
"The vehicle had been under water, and you couldn't see it until the water receded," Weaver said.
Izard County divers, along with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, responded to the scene and initiated the search around 9:30 a.m., Weaver said. Divers pulled Stauffer's body to the surface around 9:45 a.m.
"We're just grateful (Stauffer) was in the vehicle. It could have been some days before we found him had he not been inside," Weaver said. "It's a tragedy, but at least the family is able to get some closure."
Weaver said a similar incident happened just over a year ago at Piney Creek when a couple drowned after their truck was swept off a low water bridge. "Piney Creek is just bad for that ... those low water bridges can be deceptive, especially at night," Weaver said.
"It's just awful. He's a good kid -- (the Stauffers are) just a wonderful family," Weaver said. "I can't imagine what his family is going through."