MOUNT IDA, Ark. — Multiple law enforcement officials are searching for Grant County Deputy Keith Wright, who went missing Friday night on Lake Ouachita.
The sheriff's office received a call at 9:49 p.m. Friday, July 19, from an individual who stated he could not find his friend after a night on the lake.
The two reportedly dove off their party barge near a cove just north of Mountain Harbor Resort. Shortly after, they realized the boat was drifting north and the two men began to swim back to it.
During this time, the two individuals lost contact with each other. The caller swam to shore and was able to call for help.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas Game and Fish, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Rangers, Joplin VFD, and Mt. Ida-South Fork VFD responded to the call, but Wright has still not been found.
The boat was found at the back of a cove with the engine still running and the gear shift in neutral.
Grant County Chief Deputy Pete Roberts said Keith Wright is a great man who cares about everybody.
"He was the deputy that you wanted coming when you needed help. He was always the first on the scene and the last to leave," said Roberts.
Police say the Search and Rescue operations are on-going and will continue until Wright is found.
Montgomery County Sheriff David White said crews have been working through the night since Friday.
"We've got agencies from all over the state. Arkansas Game & Fish, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Grant County Sheriff's Office, Pulaski County Sheriff's Office has been out there," he said.
That only names a few of the several different agencies who have been out on the water with helicopters and drones.
White said boats with SONAR have been diving 80 feet underwater, as well, assisting in the search.
"The terrain underwater has been very rough. A lot of timber in that area, which is hard for the sonar to get down as deep as it needs to," he said.
No matter the difficulty, everyone doing whatever it takes to find Deputy Wright.
"We are going to continue to look. We are not giving up, we are going to continue to look. As long as we can, as long as we can afford to be out here and as long as we have somewhere to go look we are going to go look," White said.
On Monday afternoon a change of pace took place in the search process.
Montgomery County Chief Deputy Will Brakefield said they were beginning to scale back on the resources being used.
"In this type of incident, that 3 day time limit is always kind of a running clock because of the strain that it not only puts on the immediate area but the resources that you pull from other places," he said.
Brakefield said the agencies that brought equipment like drones, underwater cameras and SONAR boats need to take it back to their home base to analyze their footage.
"We will have one boat at least one boat covering the search area every day for the foreseeable future," he said.
Brakefield said they won't stop continuing to look for one of their own— a man who has worn several different hats in law enforcement across Arkansas from Pine Bluff to Pulaski County to Grant County.
"It goes to show the brotherhood of law enforcement in Arkansas. We all work for different agencies but it is a thin blue line that stretches across the state," he said.
The Grant County Sheriff's Office asked that everyone keeps Keith Wright's family in their thoughts and prayers as they deal with this difficult time. They also want to thank everyone who has extended a helping hand during this search.
We will update this story as the investigation continues.