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Late Night Hike Leaves Student in Critical Condition

By: Wayne Powell
Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012

According to reports, a college student from Fort Smith survived a 100-foot fall from Hawksbill Crag over the weekend.

Austin Elders, 19, a student at University of Arkansas Fort Smith and another man were camping near the often-photographed natural rock outcropping in the Buffalo wilderness.  They decided to go to the spot early Saturday morning around 3 am.  While there, Elders stepped to the side and fell some 100 feet.  His companion was able to call the Newton County Sheriff’s Office around 5 am after finding cell service in the remote area.

Rescuers with the U.S. Forest Services, Buffalo Search and Rescue, Newton County Search and Rescue, and area volunteer fire departments responded to the scene.  Some hiked to the boys' location whereas others rappelled down.

Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape says Elders is in critical condition at North Arkansas Regional Medical Center but that this is the first time in his experience that someone survived such a fall in the area.

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