Family Honoring Man Who Died in Spring River Sinkhole

Local News

UPDATE

SEARCY, Ark. —  A Searcy family is trying to honor their loved one who died after a sinkhole opened up in the Spring River on Saturday. 

In more than 20 years working as a counselor, Donny Wright helped hundreds struggling with addiction, a struggle he went through when he was younger. He even opened the doors to his own home 2 years ago, turning it into Life Recovery Center, a transitional living program for men coming out of rehab. 

Considering he made it his life’s working helping others his daughter says she’s finding comfort knowing he did the same in his death. 

“He saw someone in need and that’s just what he did,” Selah Neal said. 

On Saturday Neal says her dad was kayaking on the Spring River in Fulton County.
The 64-year-old was celebrating sobriety with the men he counseled at his transitional home.

“They went right instead of going through Dead Man’s Curve,” Neal said. 

The group didn’t know a sinkhole lay ahead.

“The man before him was a guy from his group. He got pulled into it and he actually came out on the other end. My dad was trying to go towards him and help him and he got pulled under,” Neal said. 

Neal calls it her dad’s final selfless act.

“There’s just no other explanation for it, it was just his time and God was ready for him to be home,” she added. 

Wright’s family is trying to continue his legacy through the Life Recovery Center. His son, Levi Wright, says he won’t let the center close.

 “He had saved most of their lives. These guys are going to follow through on what dad would have wanted them to do,” Levi said. “The fact that he gave his life helping others has made me want to help others even more than I ever have before.”

A funeral for Wright is being held in Searcy Saturday, June 16 at The Other Side, which is the former Complete in Christ Church at 3390 Highway 36. The service starts at 2 p.m. Since Wright loved riding his motorcycle, after his funeral his family is asking anyone with a bike to come to the church and honor him with one last ride.  

The family also started a GoFundMe page to help keep the Life Recovery Center open. 

Original Story:

FULTON COUNTY, Ark. — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is asking anyone floating the Spring River in Fulton County to avoid the area near Sadler Falls. 

A deadly boat accident occurred at a sinkhole whirlpool Saturday, according to authorities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Fulton County, along with the AGFC, have installed buoys and roped off the area.

The river is still open, but the barricaded area should not be breached.

Engineers will be on site this week to assess the area and look for a solution. 

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