One week after deputy goes missing in lake, scaled-back search efforts continue

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – One week after a Grant County sheriff’s deputy went missing at Lake Ouachita, the search continues but efforts have scaled back, authorities say.

Boats were filled with families instead of rescuers coming and going out of Mountain Harbor on Friday. The general manager. Bill Barnes, is also the chief for the Joplin Volunteer Fire Department. He was one of the first in the water last Friday (July 19) when deputy Keith Wright went missing.

“The first thing we always think about is ‘Please don’t let it be bad,'” Barnes says. Anybody of water poses risks, but where the deputy was last seen swimming after his boat is exceptionally challenging.

 “We’re dealing with absolutely pitch black, cold water and all those trees standing intact with all those limbs it literally is an underwater forest,” Barnes says.

Montgomery County Sheriff David White echoes that description.

“The search conditions were awful,” White says.

“That [area where Wright went missing] has been gone over as much as possible the last week.”

Though the search has been scaled back, it’s not complete.

“Day to day, boats are still going out there with sonars and searching the area,” White says.

Even during the resorts busiest season, Barnes is proud to support first responders in whatever way possible.

 “Our job is to take care of them and we do that because that’s the way Arkansas neighbors and neighborhoods look after each other.”

It’s an effort to help them so they can possibly help bring closure to a family.

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