The Arkansas River search for a missing Conway fisherman is now a recovery effort, Arkansas Game and Fish officials said Wednesday.
The missing man, Mark Allen Russell, 43, entered the river at Cadron Settlement Park Tuesday at about 3 p.m. and was due back before dark, according to family members.
Officials say Russell’s family found his Jeep and boat trailer at the park’s boat launch Wednesday morning after he did not return home and notified police.
An Arkansas Game and Fish official said a helicopter search by Arkansas State Police did not reveal the man’s whereabouts.
The last GPS coordinates available for Russell’s mobile phone were east of the park’s loading ramp, officials said.
An initial investigation of Russell’s boat conducted Wednesday after Game and Fish officials found it against Toad Suck Lock and Dam downriver, showed the fishing boat had recently been in a collision, according to Wildlife Officer Ross Spurlock.
Spurlock told family members gathered at the park it appeared the boat was impacted on the front end, and a jetty or log caused damage the length of the boat.
The initial investigation showed Russell was going full speed, about 28-30 miles per hour, when he was apparently thrown from the boat.
A handle on the motor was broken off in wide position, indicating Russell was hanging on when the impact occurred, Spurlock said.
Damage on the right side of the boat shows Russell may have been thrown out on that side, he said.
The engine was “dry,” and it appeared the boat engine ran until it was out of gas before it was found at the dam and towed back to Cadron Settlement by Game and Fish officials.
“We’ll search every day,” Spurlock said, adding that at this point, the search is a recovery effort.
Family members, including Russell’s mother, said they would also search the length of the river to Toad Suck daily.
A few live catfish and filleted fish were found inside the boat.
A family member advised officials Wednesday Russell would fish for catfish on the river, and not in the coves along the river, to cater search efforts.
Family members told officials there was only one life jacket in the boat, and it was still in the boat when it was recovered.
Update: The boat used by the missing Conway man has been found and retrieved.
Conway Police Department spokeswoman La Tresha Woodruff said a Conway man has been reported missing at Cadron Settlement Park.
Woodruff said the he was reported missing today by his wife after he did not return home from night fishing.
Woodruff said the man's truck and boat trailer are still at the park.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Department is in charge of the search, which is curently taking place in Conway County.
Check back for updates.