Man in kayak drowns in Arkansas river after being swallowed by sinkhole

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
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A man who died in an Arkansas river is being hailed as a hero after he came to the aid of another man who was nearly pulled underwater by a sinkhole.

FULTON COUNTY, Arkansas -- A family is in mourning after a sinkhole opened up in an Arkansas river, pulling a 64-year-old man underwater.

Donny Wright was remembered by his children and friends for his willingness to help others, even in his final moments.

Selah Neal, Donny's daughter, told KARK-TV that Wright was kayaking with a group of people when they made a fateful turn to the right, instead of a spot known as "Dead Man's Curve."

"He had been looking forward to this trip for weeks," Neal said.

But what the group could not see was a sinkhole that lay ahead.

"The man before him was a guy from his group. He got pulled into it. My dad was trying to go towards him and help him, and he got pulled under," Neal said. "He saw someone in need and that's just what he did."

Donny's son, Levi, described his father as a man who was born to bridge people to second chances in life as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor.

For two decades, Donny helped hundreds of men in their recovery from addiction, Levi said.

"These guys are going to follow through on what Dad would have wanted them to do," he said.

The family says projects left on the table at the recovery center after Donny's death won't stay unfinished.

"I've told them to continue on with this," Levi said.

Donny's family has launched a GoFundMe page to help keep the recovery center open in his honor.