Arkansas Reporter Survives Texas Park Ordeal

October 8, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

Cathy Frye could go on no longer.

She and her husband, Rick McFarland, decided that he would set out in Texas’ remote Big Bend Ranch State Park to find help, leaving her behind. For two more days, she waited it out, using a small tree for shade.

The Associated Press reported that McFarland was able to find his car, drive to a ranger’s station and help launch a search-and-rescue operation that found Frye on Sunday. She remained hospitalized two days later, but in good spirits as she recovered from severe dehydration.

It was the type of ordeal typically covered by Frye and McFarland, who met and still work together at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper in Little Rock.

Their skills came in handy. Frye, an award-winning writer who has covered disasters such as the 2010 flooding at an Arkansas campground that killed 20 people, told the newspaper she had read about trying to stay in place during the hottest points of the day.

McFarland, a staff photographer for two decades, would use his camera to locate his car and drive for help.

He shared the good news with friends in a text message that read in part: “I’ve not seen her yet, but overjoyed is nowhere near how I feel.”

Rescuers found Frye, the 43-year-old mother of two children, in a dry creek known as an arroyo. She had taken off her clothes, was severely dehydrated, and had sunburn, bruises and cactus thorns all over her body, the newspaper reported.

The partial federal government shutdown had forced Frye and her husband out of their original destination, Big Bend National Park, on Tuesday. The couple was familiar with that remote park on the U.S.-Mexico border, having been married there in 2001 and visited every year since. But they took a local employee’s advice and went west to Big Bend Ranch State Park, which was still open.

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