Army Corp of Engineers filling in holes at High Falls on Spring River

Photo credit- Hardy Police Chief Scott Rose. The first load of large rock was dumped by the Army Corp of Engineers this morning into a hold on High Falls.

Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor

Nearly four years after a Paragould woman lost her life while enjoying a family outing on the Spring River at High Falls, the Army Corp of Engineers and representatives with the Commissioner of State Lands Office are filling in the hole.

Large trucks, dump trucks and an excavator made their way to the Spring River this morning, March 5, in hope of preventing another incident like the one in 2020.

SRC Archive Photo by Tammy Curtis————–Volunteers work on June 22, 2020 at High Falls at Hardy to free the body of Michele Summitt of Paragould who drowned the day before while floating with her fiance. This is the exact location, that today, March 5, 2024, the Army Corp of Engineer, working with the Arkansas Land Commissioner’s Office is filling the hole with large boulders.

According to witnesses, on June 21, 2020, Michele Summitt, 39, of Paragould, was floating on a tube with her fiance and another couple, when one of the people in her party hit a grassy spot near High Falls in Hardy causing her to fall off her tube and be sucked into the hole. 

Several witnesses saw Summitt raise her arms before being sucked completely inside the hole. Monica Hobbs, a lifelong resident of Hardy who lives nearby and is very seasoned with the area of the falls was among the first to arrive and attempt to rescue Summitt from the hole.  Hobbs, said she has been on the river since she was four and the pull was worse than she had ever seen and that hole was new. Each year the floods change the river. 

Divers with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission worked into the night with the Hardy Fire Department and numerous volunteers utilized plywood in an attempt to divert the swift water from the hole to gain access to the woman. The extremely fast water and large hole made the recovery impossible with darkness falling. 

They resumed with a new plan at daylight. Sand bags were delivered from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to a dock upstream from the site and were carried by boat to the falls. After sandbags were in place, an old canoe was sunk in the river to further divert the flow of water to allow divers to access the hole. Plywood was also placed into the water until the water was nearly completely diverted around noon. Dye balls, given to the team by Coroner Renee Clay-Circle, showed the flow of water to go into the hole and exit on the falls.  The amount of dye coming out lower on the falls confirmed to divers the opening in the falls was likely too small to expel the body and that she remained in the hole. 

After the water was nearly completely stopped, Summitt’s body was located and recovered. 

Hardy Police Chief Scott Rose placed signs on the river bank before the falls after Summitt’s death to warn floaters of the danger. Little has been done other than surveying the falls since her death until today. The reason the Corp was prompted to finally fill the holes on March 5 is unclear. This news agency has reached out to the Corp’s Little Rock District about the project and is currently awaiting a callback. We will update this article when contact is made regarding the project’s purpose, future implications and reason for the vast delay in time addressing the issue. 

The boulders being put into place will help prevent this type of accident in the future.

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