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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Recovery effort brought out the best in everyone

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A large group of divers from Marion County and officials from various agencies regroup and contemplate a plan of action March 26 at Camp Kia Kima, prior to finding the body of a four year old Springdale drowning victim. Photo/Tammy Curtis [Order this photo]
The quiet solitude has returned to Camp Kia Kima after a five day search, for four-year-old Caleb Linn of Springdale, whose body was recovered March 28 after he drowned while visiting the Boy Scout Camp for a work day.

The recovery effort was an example of how law enforcement, divers, rescue workers and compassionate friends and neighbors came together in a time of need.

From March 24, just after lunch, until around 10 a.m. March 28, hundreds of volunteers searched over 900 acres on the Fulton County Boy Scout camp located on the South Fork of the Spring River, before discovering the boy's body around 10 a.m. March 28.

The rescue effort turned into a recovery operation March 27, after the young boy's shirt was located inside out in the river, downstream from the bridge where some family members said Linn was last seen.

On March 28, Sharp County Deputy Shane Russell, along with his father "Crowbar" Russell, Chief Deputy David Huffmaster, Stan Haney and Det. Dale Weaver arrived early, confident they would locate the child's body.

The men were very familiar with the river and believed they would locate the child near where the shirt had been discovered, if not further downstream.

Russell said the men stayed about 20 feet apart and slowly worked the river banks by canoe in search of the child. He said another group from Missouri were also in canoes and assisted with the search.

The once swollen river had gone down, Russell said, when the boy's body was located in about two feet of water, about a quarter mile downstrean from the bridge where he was last seen. The men carefully recovered Linn to prevent the child from going further downstream. Russell said it was a very difficult task, one he hopes he never has to repeat.

Russell also talked about the importance of river safety, and having respect for the dangers it holds. He said most who drown on the river are not locals, and safety should somehow be stressed before the upcoming floating season, which all to often ends with more drownings.

Linn had been missing since 11:30 a.m. Saturday after leaving a bridge near the camp, where he and his aunt were with a group of 11 children at the 900-acre Boy Scout Camp. Five of the children left the bridge to return to camp when Caleb asked his aunt, who was supervising the children, for permission to catch up with the others, and did not make it back to the cabin.

Although the group was not associated with the Boy Scouts, they come from Springdale each year to help clean up the campsite before the scouts arrive during the summer months. The group had been working on a clean-up project at a bridge, about a half-mile from the main campsite where they were staying in a cabin. Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts said the children were cleaning debris that had amassed on one side of the bridge due to recent flooding.

Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley said over 300 volunteers included various law enforcement and volunteer agencies from Arkansas, Southeast Missouri and Tennessee. Helicopters, divers, mounted horseback riders, ATVs and volunteers on foot searched countless hours in the wooded area.

March 25, the search yielded little but, the Fulton County Road Department brought a track hoe to the bridge to clean the debris to allow divers to search the area near the bridge.

Divers continued near the bridge in an area where much of the debris had accumulated. Around 3 p.m. March 26, cadaver dogs from Little Rock made a "hit" on an area about a quarter mile upriver from the bridge where Linn was last spotted.

Again on March 27, dogs made hits in the same vicinity, and divers continued to search. That afternoon, divers from Marion and Craighead Counties discovered the shirt that was later confirmed by the boy's aunt to belong to the child.

Rescue workers, including deputies with both Sharp and Lawrence County as well as Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts, Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley and Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dodson searched the water with an underwater camera until dark. Around 3 p.m., Foley held a press conference calling off the land search -- concentrating all further efforts on the river, where it was believed the boy would be located.

Throughout the search, crews with North Arkansas Electric Cooperative helped search the wooded area on foot. The team also brought a large grill and provided food, drinks, snacks, sunblock, and insect repellent for those searching the large area.

Amanda and Randy Muir, Linn's mother and stepfather, said they had never given up hope that crews would locate their son, and, were thankful for the efforts of all those who searched.

An official with the Arkansas State Police questioned the boy's aunt on March 26 to determine a better timeline of when the child went missing.

Authorities said the investigation into his death has officially been turned over to Arkansas State Police.

Investigators tried to cover all bases during the investigation, including questioning known sex offenders who lived in the area. After discovering the orange and green shirt, they were certain the boy was in the river.

Foley said he was very thankful for the countless hours those who searched for Linn spent assisting his county in the recovery.

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I just wish law enforcement would not always do the "let's round up the sex offenders" thing when something happens. This does (3) things; causes the parents to imagine horrible things over and above that of the child is gone, 2) instills more media hyped fear of registered former sexual offenders who's recidivism rate is below 5% and, 3)when a registrant's family hears that horrid heavy five knocks at the door they immediately go into this panic mode of "they are here again..what are they going to do to my Dad or Mom and our house!" There are over 763,000 men, women and children required to register across the states for a myriad of "crimes" and when you multiply that number by 3 or 4 family members you can clearly see there are almost 3,000,000 wives, children, mothers, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other loved ones of registrants who suffer the collateral damage in many ways just for trying to hold their family together and provide a support system which studies indicate are vital for a stable re-entry environment.

Vicki Henry

Women Against Registry dot com

-- Posted by yellowroselady on Thu, Apr 5, 2012, at 11:36 PM

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