Missing hiker Josh McClatchy, age 38, was located by Polk County Search teams late Friday night, June 7, 2019.
McClatchy had been missing since Saturday, June 1, in the Caney Creek Wilderness when he became lost on the Buckeye Trail in the wilderness area Southeast of Mena, Arkansas.
According to family members, Polk County Sheriff, Scott Sawyer, received information from a cellular carrier defining a location where McClatchy’s cell phone was last located. Once the information was obtained and diagnosed, Sheriff Sawyer requested use of an Arkansas National Guard helicopter.
The helicopter, equipped with FLIR technology, arrived on the scene at approximately 8 p.m. The initial usage for the helicopter was for a total of three hours during the search efforts.
“The aircrew first located him about one mile south of the Caney Creek Trail at about 9:00 PM. He was heading north. Once he was spotted, Chief Deputy Randy Jewell, USFS Joe Liles, and Arkansas Game and Fish Officer Ray Hines gathered up a team and we guided them towards McClatchy from the air. They sprinted 2.7 miles down a very treacherous trail in about 45 minutes. It was very impressive watching them from the air, said Sheriff Sawyer.”
The helicopter had to leave to refuel before McClatchy was located. It was off scene for approximately 25 minutes before returning. “McClatchy was still moving north when we returned, and it took about 30 minutes for us to reacquire him from the helicopter. Once we spotted him again, the search teams had to scale a deep ridge in the dark to locate McClatchy.”
Rescuers finally made contact with McClatchy at around 11:30 PM Friday night. It took about three and a half hours to get him off the mountain and then carry him back out to the trailhead according to Sheriff Sawyer. From there McClatchy was reunited with his family and transported to Mena Regional Health Systems.
“The team work, the dedication, and the effort put out by these rescue teams was truly remarkable. I’d like to thank my Deputies, the Polk County Judge and OEM, the USFS, the Arkansas Game and Fish, the Arkansas State Parks, Grant County and other SAR team members, ADEM, the Arkansas National Guard, Governor Hutchinson, the Mena Fire Department, and SW EMS for their hard work and professionalism,” concluded Sheriff Sawyer.