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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Another life lost on the Spring River

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Members of the Hardy Police, Fire and Water Rescue, Arkansas Game and Fish, as well as Sharp County Deputy Shane Russell, Sharp County Deputy Stan Haney, Deputy Kevin Deinst, Det. Sgt. Ken Guidry, Det. Sgt. Dale Weaver and Sheriff Mark Counts work to free the body of 15-year-old Steven Dinet III near Buford Beach in Hardy on Aug. 11.
The Spring River has claimed another life, the second within a month.

Efforts by local emergency personnel to rescue a 15-year-old Jonesboro boy turned into a recovery effort, after a search was called off late Aug. 7. The search resumed Aug. 8, when the boy's body was recovered near Buford Beach in Hardy.

A call came into Central Dispatch at 7:37 p.m. Aug. 7 for help locating Steven Dinet, who had gone under the water near Buford Beach.

Rescue workers with the Sharp County Sheriff's Department, Hardy Fire, Water Rescue and Police Department, Spring River Paramedic Ambulance Service, Cherokee Village Police and Fire Department, Highland Police Department and Arkansas Game and Fish searched late into the night to help locate Dinet.

According to the victim's father, Steven Dinet Jr., he and his son and great aunt had been floating on tubes from the beach area to the falls.

Dinet said his son wanted to stay on the falls sitting in the water.

While his father went back to float down in the tube, he saw Dinet go under and began calling for help.

Dinet said he had been sitting on the falls with his son right before he disappeared under the water.

The boy's great aunt, Wanda Munoz, who was with them on the family outing, said, "It just happened so fast, he just went under." She said they called for help,

Munoz said, "I couldn't believe how fast they got here," referring to the first responders and fire department personnel.

The family lives in Jonesboro, where they moved following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. They were visiting Hardy for the weekend to cool off in the Spring River.

The group searched until darkness and a thunderstorm made the water murky.

Dinet's body was discovered just after 8:30 a.m. Monday by Ashton Hester, a volunteer with the Hardy Fire Department and a Hardy Police officer, under a rock shelf within the falls, with the use of an underwater camera.

Several people who had assisted in the search remarked on how many times they had searched in the same area.

Dinet's body was recovered very close to where he went under.

Rescue workers created a makeshift water diversion apparatus out of plywood to divert the strong current to assist them in the recovery.

Authorities said swift water rescues and recoveries are one of the most challenging types of water operations emergency personnel encounter.

The swift water, as well as cold temperatures, can quickly take their toll on workers.

The men worked tirelessly for hours before weather and darkness hampered the search effort.

By 6 a.m. Aug. 8, members of the search party were already back on the scene to resume the search.

Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose remarked on the manner in which the floods can cause changes the river.

Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton said many of the drownings on the river are a result of people not wearing life jackets or of swimming alone.

Thornton said she would like to see these tragedies increase the public's awareness of the importance of lifesaving devices and using "the buddy system" when swimming in the river.

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