Conway Fire Department and Arkansas Game and Fish workers are searching Beaverfork Lake for a fisherman feared to have drowned on Friday evening.
Authorities say the man they’re looking for is John Sanders, who retired from the Conway Sanitation Department about a month ago.
“He was an awesome employee and an awesome friend, not just to me, but to our sanitation department family,” department director Cheryl Harrington said. “We were all excited that he was able to retire and was going to be able to do the things he enjoyed, and some of those things were fishing and spending time with his family.”
Harrington said that Sanders was remembered in her department as the kind of person “who didn’t have bad days.”
“If he’s not found, he will truly be one missed person in our family,” she said.
There were a number of family, friends and co-workers, gathered at the lake as the search was being done.
Conway Fire Chief Mike Winter said that a fisherman found Sanders’ overturned boat at around 6 p.m. and anchored a bouy to mark the location before towing the boat back in. Fire department divers searched the area where the boat was found for about two hours on Friday night, and the department has been using sonar instruments to scan the lakebed. The game and fish commission has a more sophisticated towed side-scan sonar device, and this is also being used in the search.
Chief of Police A.J. Gary said that some of his officers searched the banks of the lake on Friday night as well. As of 2:15, the searchers were still scanning the lake.
Winter said that his people would continue scanning the lake until dark, and resume at first light. Game and fish is also committed to helping throughout the search, he said.
Early Friday afternoon a brief but strong windstorm swept through, but the weather was fair by late afternoon and evening. Winter said that based on what he's heard it's possible that Sanders was on the lake when the windstorm came through.