Teen drowns at popular swimming hole in Saline County

BENTON, Ark.(KTHV) - A fun day in the water with friends turned deadly for a Saline County teenager. It's the second drowning involving a teen this week in Arkansas.

Authorities said 18-year old Michael Ryan Baker was swimming when he went underwater and never re-surfaced.

As the days grow hotter, so does the popularity of cooling off in the Saline River. For Benton resident Joey Stone it's an opportunity he says to spend quality time with his daughter.

"Tons and tons of people come here."

Just one day after a teenager drowned swimming in the river, Stone said he isn't taking any chances in the water.

"She don't go in the water unless I go in the water. Usually holding hands because I don't want current or anything else to take her down."

According to police the incident happened just after noon near the Henry Street access to the Saline River.

"It's my understanding they were just down here for a fun summer day, they were just swimming and such and unfortunately one of them got into some kind of distress, something we're still looking into, a cause of death, but unfortunately he drowned."

Witnesses say Baker was with a group of 18 to 20-year-olds, all familiar with the popular swimming hole.

Lieutenant Kevin Russell with Benton Police says the drowning is the first in many years at the recreation area.

"Usually the Saline River is kind of a lazy river, it doesn't flow really fast, but if the water is up if we've had a lot of rain it can be flowing extremely quick."

Flow rates along the river were not a concern Tuesday as dive teams with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Grant County Fire Rescue recovered the teen's body hours later.

For Stone, the drowning serves a reminder that you can never let your guard down while in the water.

"You don't see what's under water. If there's a rock and the currents swirling around it, it could drag you under. You could hit your head on a rock and there you go."

Police are investigating the death but at this time no foul play is suspected.

Related story: Second teen drowning reported in Arkansas


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