On the afternoon of Saturday, June 1, 2019, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a lost hiker on the Buckeye Trail in the Caney Creek Wilderness Area east of Mena. The Caney Creek Wilderness area is a remote and rugged mountainous area southeast of Mena. It has numerous hiking trails.
The hiker, Joshua McClatchy (37 year-old male from Texas) reported to the caller that he was lost somewhere on the Buckeye Trail. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service sent a team in on the Buckeye Trail but were unable to locate him. His car was located at the Buckeye Trailhead.
On Sunday, June 2, 2019, teams from the Sheriff’s Office, Forest Service, OEM, Arkansas Game & Fish, and the Mena Fire Department conducted a more extensive search of the Buckeye and Caney Creek trails.
Teams were back in the area on Monday and an aerial search was also conducted.
More searchers from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas Game & Fish, U.S. Forest Service, and Arkansas State Parks were brought in to replace fatigued volunteers on Tuesday morning as the search continued. Sheriff Sawyer stated that the focus of Tuesday’s search was Short Creek, an area just north of the Buckeye Trail.
“We will do whatever it takes to find Mr. McClatchy and get him home to his family. We will continue searching and we will find him. The area we are searching today is extremely tough to negotiate. It’s rocky, it’s steep, and it’s thick”.
Sheriff Sawyer stated that while lost hikers are common in the area, most are located within a few hours.
At press time, Sawyer confirmed that McClatchy has not been located.