Arkansas Agencies Argue Over Body Recovery

ROGERS, Ark. --

Just 24 hours after a drowning where the victim's body was pulled from Beaver Lake, there's still an argument over which agency should have made that recovery.

Hickory Creek Volunteer Fire Chief Marc Trollinger said his department -- who were the first to arrive at the scene -- were threatened with arrest unless they stopped their efforts. They said that led to a delay in recovering the body.

They got to the lake a little after 6 p.m. after receiving a report of a possible drowning here Hickory Creek Park. Witnesses reported seeing a man in distress less than 100 yards off the shore.

Trollinger said they got a sonar reading, sent divers into the water, but was later told to leave the scene.

"Nobody wants the grudge match or the rivalry. We just want to do our job," Trollinger said.

"Upon arrival, the guys started a search and rescue operation. Midway through that operation, the Benton County Sheriff's Department declared it a crime scene, and we were told we were past our golden hour of rescue efforts," Trollinger said.

Trollinger refused.

"The Hickory Creek Fire Department and water rescue had divers on the scene, people on the boats. There were no other divers on the scene that could perform it," Trollinger said.

Trollinger said with a large crowd looking on, he didn't want to abandon his rescue effort and wait for the sheriff's dive team. So nearly two hours after the first call, the body was recovered without the help of that team.

And Trollinger said the back and forth between agencies cost rescuers more than 15 minutes.

"Our citizens need to know that help is coming and that we're doing everything we can to help them, and without that, we're not doing our job," Trollinger said.

Hickory Creek Fire Department said its volunteers are well-trained in water rescue efforts and have led or assisted on similar efforts in the past.

Many officials from all the agencies involved met for a few hours Monday to try to make sure that similar disagreements and delays don't happen on future rescue efforts.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office would not comment on the matter this evening.

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