Investigator Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said the search of the Buffalo River for 65-year-old Rick Norber has ended after searchers located his body today. Efforts had continued to locate Norber throughout recent days since he went missing on April 26th.
A jet boat owned by the Hasty Volunteer Fire Department began working upstream from Pruitt this morning with one member of the Hasty Fire Department and an employee of the National Park Service on board, while National Park Service employees began working downstream from Kyles’s Landing in paddle crafts.
At approximately 10:48 A.M. the searchers in the Hasty Fire Department boat notified authorities they had located Norber. Norber was approximately four miles from where he was last seen.
Norber went missing on the morning of Wednesday, April 26th when his party was trapped by flood waters in an area known as “Hell’s Half Acre” above Kyles Landing.
Inv. Wheeler said “This is an unfortunate ending, but at least it brings a bit of closure for the family and all the searchers who have poured so much into the effort to find Rick. It still amazes me how the volunteer spirit comes out in our community. We simply couldn’t do this without our volunteers and the other agencies we work with.”
Sheriff Keith Slape echoed Wheeler’s sentiments in a statement “I’m relieved that we were finally able to locate Mr. Norber. Thanks to all the searchers and agencies involved, his family can now begin the process of making arrangements. It lifts the veil of uncertainty that goes with having a loved one that can’t be located.”
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office had been joined throughout the search by the National Park Service, Harrison Fire Department, Newton County OEM, Tri-County Search and Rescue, Mennonite Disaster Services, Christian Aid Ministries, The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and their dive team, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Mt. Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, Hasty Volunteer Fire Department, Personnel from Lost Valley Canoe Rental, The Arkansas Canoe Club, Carroll County OEM, K-9 units from around the state and the American Red Cross.
Inv. Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said the search of the Buffalo River for 65 year old Rick Norber has been suspended due to impending weather and water conditions.
“Our area is extremely saturated after all the recent rains and a small shower upstream of the operations earlier today caused a two inch rise in the river at the Ponca river gauge. We ceased operations a little before dark this evening and, if we get the rain they are forecasting, we won’t be able to resume searching for several days. We just can’t justify putting searchers on the water if we get the rise in water levels we are expecting.” Wheeler continued “Once the river has crested and is back at safer levels, we will resume searching on a smaller scale.”
Norber went missing early Wednesday morning on a canoeing trip when his party was trapped by flood waters in an area known as “Hell’s Half Acre” above Kyles Landing.
Sheriff Keith Slape said “It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to find Rick, but these conditions are just beyond our control. Investigator Wheeler has been in contact with the family and they understand the situation. Our hearts go out to them.”
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office had been joined by the National Park Service, Harrison Fire Department, Newton County OEM, Tri-County Search and Rescue, Mennonite Disaster Services, Christian Aid Ministries, The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and their dive team, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Mt. Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, Hasty Volunteer Fire Department, Personnel from Lost Valley Canoe Rental, The Arkansas Canoe Club, Carroll County OEM, K-9 units from around the state and the American Red Cross.
Inv. Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said the search continued Friday morning near Kyle’s Landing for a canoeist that went missing late Wednesday morning.
Ricky “Rick” Norber, aged 65 from the St. Louis area was with a group of three other canoeists that had camped overnight along the river on Tuesday night. Rising waters from heavy rains trapped the group who attempted to float out to safety Wednesday morning.
River levels have continued to drop overnight, but impending rain threatens to cause river levels to rise to above what was present at the time Norber went missing.
Searchers from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Harrison Fire Department, Tri-County Search and Rescue, Newton County Office of Emergency Services, National Park Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Mennonite Disaster Services, Christian Aid Ministries, The Arkansas Canoe Club and local volunteers are involved in the search and the American Red Cross is on scene assisting with support of the searchers.
Inv. Wheeler said “we have more people actually in the water today. The dropping water levels are allowing us to cover more area that had been underwater before. We have some highly trained and well equipped people who can handle being in swift water.” Wheeler went on to say “The dropping water in both good and bad. While it allows us to operate more safely and cover more area, but it begins to limit our ability to use motorized boats.”
Ground searchers and dog teams are still being utilized and incident managers are in contact with the National Weather Service and other outlets to monitor upcoming weather. Searchers are also keeping a close eye on river level gauges upstream of operations in case rising water forces searchers to evacuate the river.
Inv. Glenn Wheeler with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said the search continues near Kyles Landing for a canoer that went missing late yesterday morning.
The 65 year old man from the St. Louis area was with a group of three other canoers that had camped overnight along the river on Tuesday night. Rising waters from heavy rains trapped the group who attempted to float out to safety.
Each of the four individuals was in their own canoe, although not canoes designed for solo paddling. The group was also carrying camping gear for a multi-day trip.
Shortly after getting back on the water, the group encountered trouble and three of the four canoes turned over. One of the individuals was later rescued on an island upstream of Kyles Landing. Two other individuals made it to the campground at Kyles Landing and the fourth was last seen by witnesses passing Kyles Landing. The individual was in the water, not in a canoe. Witnesses last saw the man approximately 150 yards downstream from Kyles Landing.
The river level at the time of the incident was at flood stage. Water levels dropped substantially overnight and conditions were greatly improved as the search resumed this morning.
Inv. Wheeler said “we are making a huge push today while we have a good weather window. We are still very much in search and rescue mode due to several indicators that survivability is still viable.”
Searchers from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Tri-County Search and Rescue, Newton County Office of Emergency Services, National Park Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Mennonite Disaster Services, and local volunteers are involved in the search and the American Red Cross is on scene assisting with support of the searchers.
Inv. Wheeler said “we have a good, professional group of searchers working on finding this gentleman and are putting forth all efforts possible while we can before more bad weather and even bigger flood waters hamper our efforts. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him, his family and the rest of the group that was with him.”
Investigator Glenn Wheeler
Setting up the Command Post
All available personnel with the Newton County Sheriff's Office are currently working storm damage that leads from the Parthenon area to Carver in a straight line. Damage to include trees down and structure damage.
It is with a heavy heart that Sheriff Keith Slape announces the passing of Deputy Marshall Metzgar. Deputy Metzgar passed away on Friday December 2, 2016 following a heart attack. Deputy Metzgar was a Bailiff for the Newton County Sheriff’s office, but had previously held other positions with the department, including Chief Deputy.
Deputy Metzgar had a long and decorated career in law enforcement prior to coming to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. Not only was he a Deputy and Bailiff in Boone County, but Metzgar had spent 31 years with the Border Patrol. He retired from that agency after having risen to the rank of Chief of the Southeastern Sector of the U.S., supervising agents in several states. He also worked for a period of time in Washington D.C. working directly with Congress and lawmakers on policy. Metzgar headed up the Border Patrol’s relief efforts following Hurricane Andrew after it devastated Florida. His actions, foresight and ability to make things happen earned him a personal visit and commendation from the Attorney General of the United States. Metzgar would laugh and recall “I thought I was in trouble when I sat down across the table from him.”After retiring, Metzgar moved to Newton County in 1996.
Sheriff Slape said “Marshall has been a pillar not only at the Sheriff’s Office, but in the community, for many years. He was always a professional and did everything he set out to do with dedication and enthusiasm. He always had a great sense of humor, a smile on his face and lifted the spirits of everyone he encountered. But, he was also all business when it came to doing his job. His experience, training and cool headedness made him an invaluable asset. I could always depend on him and sought and welcomed his advice. He was not just an employee, he was a friend and a trusted advisor.”
Slape continued “Law enforcement really is like one big family. This is especially true in a small agency like ours. We celebrate with one another and we hurt with one another. Marshall’s passing will leave a huge hole in the Sheriff’s Office family.”
Metzgar’s wife, Maggie, also works at the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, heading up the Business Administration Division or, as Sheriff Slape says, “kind of the nerve center that keeps this place running.” Slape went on to say “the entire Sheriff’s Office mourns with Maggie and she and the family are in our prayers.”
Deputy Metzgar was a member of the Mason’s Lodge in Jasper and attended The First Baptist Church of Jasper. He is survived by his wife, Maggie, two daughters, Kelly Malone and Jamie Wintraub and three grandchildren, Austin, Miranda and Sandra.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, December 8th, 2016 at 2:00 P.M.
Chief Deputy Jarred Morgan said that the Newton County Sheriff’s Office received a call Monday evening concerning a Fayetteville man that had not been seen or heard from in a couple of days.
Phil Davison, aged 33 did not show up for work in Harrison on Monday and had not called anyone to let them know he wouldn’t be there. Family and coworkers were unable to contact Davison by phone. Davison works in Harrison, but lives in Fayetteville. Fayetteville Police went to Davison’s house and found the door unlocked and no one home.
Davison had told coworkers that he intended to go hiking near the Buffalo River this weekend to “get lost in the woods” but did not specify where on the river he planned to visit. Several agencies had put out bulletins to be on the lookout for Davison.
Newton County Deputy Kyle Dunn began checking area trailheads and hiking destinations for Davison’s vehicle while Investigator Glenn Wheeler began following leads from Davison’s cell phone. Cell phone information indicated Davison was in east central Colorado. Investigator Wheeler began contacting hotels near the area who put the word out to be watching for Davison’s vehicle. One of the hotel employees later spotted a car fitting the description of Davison’s at a truck stop in neighboring Limon, Colorado. Investigators contacted the Lincoln County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office and a local officer was sent to try and make contact with Davison.
Davison was located and appeared to be in good physical condition. He assured officers he was fine and would contact his family.
Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape said the latest Newton County Deputy has graduated from the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy’s Springdale campus, completing the Basic Law Enforcement Officer course.
Deputy Chase Smith began his training on August 1st and completed it on October 28th, following more than 500 hours of education.
Training subjects run the gamut from constitutional law to firearms training, driving, defensive tactics, state law, traffic law, accident investigation and much more.
Sheriff Slape said “Chase is a good, young deputy with a good work ethic and a great knowledge of the county. He will be a good asset to our agency. His good performance at the academy only reinforces that.”
Sheriff Keith Slape, Deputy Matthew Smith, Chief Deputy Jarred Morgan
Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape said that two people his office had been looking for were taken into custody on Thursday evening.
Sheriff Slape said Justin M. Vanderpool, 32 of Jasper and Sarah J. Anderson, 40 were arrested on outstanding warrants. Both were wanted for Simultaneous Possession of Drugs and Firearms, 2 counts of Theft by Receiving (over $25,000), one count of Theft by Receiving ($1,000.00 or less) and Manufacturing a Schedule VI Controlled Substance.
The charges stem from an investigation in September after an Investigator with the Sheriff’s Office and a Game Warden located marijuana growing beside a residence and in plain view of a county road. When deputies investigated they located stolen property. A search warrant was obtained that led to the recovery of numerous stolen items, firearms, drugs and explosives.
Warrants for Vanderpool and Anderson were obtained and deputies had been looking for the couple since the warrants arrived. They were located in a trailer house south of Jasper and were arrested without incident.
When the couple was taken into custody, deputies located a stolen ATV from an earlier theft case in Newton County. Deputies also found methamphetamine and paraphernalia.
Both are being held in the Newton County Jail on the warrants with no bond, pending appearance before a judge. Further charges are pending on the stolen ATV and drugs.
Sheriff Slape said “Good investigation and old-fashioned law enforcement work led to the capture of two people we have been looking for. I’m glad we were also able to recover more stolen property and get a few more drugs out of the community.”
Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape would like to let the citizens of Newton County know that he has been dealing with some health issues that will continue to be a factor in the upcoming weeks.
“Recently, following some headaches and neck pain, a tumor was discovered in my neck that was on my spine. The tumor has been causing some issues that required me to visit a specialist in Little Rock. At this point, I am scheduled to have surgery in the very near future.” Slape said.
“After the surgery, I will spend a few days in the hospital then will come home for the remainder of my recovery. Recovery time will take several weeks, but I will still be overseeing the operations of the Sheriff’s Office, just on light duty.” Slape continued.
“The main thing I want to make clear is that the citizens of Newton County will not suffer in any way from this. I have a great team in place that can deal with the day to day business and are very capable of handling things in my absence. For bigger issues, the folks at the office will be able to contact me. I will also be checking in at the office and taking care of administrative issues from home, as needed.”
“The doctor tells me they don’t yet know if the tumor is malignant or not and will not be able to determine that until they remove it. But, on the bright side, over eighty percent of these are benign. I would appreciate everyone’s prayers and understanding while we deal with this.”
“I fully believe in transparency of my office as long as it doesn’t jeopardize any ongoing investigations or people’s privacy. I would rather let everyone know what is going on up front and squash any rumors that may come up.”