Ca­noeists at­tacked with ma­chete at camp site

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DAVE HUGHES

Franklin County deputies be­lieve a man who in­jured a ca­noeist with a ma­chete and held a wo­man at knife­point Mon­day at a camp site on the Mul­berry River has left the area.

Christo­pher Bellinger of Ok­la­homa suf­fered cuts to his ear and sev­eral to his arm, one of which sev­ered an artery and re­quired med­i­cal treat­ment.

Sher­iff in­ves­ti­ga­tor Sgt. Jeff Wood said Bellinger was air­lifted to Wash­ing­ton Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Fayet­teville where he was treated and re­leased.

The at­tacker was de­scribed as be­ing in his 50s or 60s, bearded and driv­ing a gray newer model Ford pickup with Florida tags, Sher­iff An­thony Boen said Wed­nes­day.

Wood found the bearded man’s name, which he wouldn’t re­lease Wed­nes­day, and a phone num­ber while search­ing through the man’s be­long­ings early Tues­day, but at­tempts to reach him weren’t suc­cess­ful.

The phone’s last lo­ca­tion was tracked to Jack­son, Tenn., Wood said.

Boen said Bellinger and the wo­man were ca­noe­ing on the Mul­berry River about 5 p.m. Mon­day when they stopped at a spot on the river near Red­ding Camp­ground called Hug­gins Loop to talk to a bearded man camp­ing there.

Wood said Bellinger told him Tues­day they learned the man was a Navy vet­eran. As the cou­ple was about to leave, Bellinger told him he shook the man’s hand and thanked him for his ser­vice.

When he turned his back to leave, Wood said, the man grabbed Bellinger’s com­pan­ion, Tori Har­ris also of Ok­la­homa, and threat­ened her with the ma­chete. Bellinger tried to in­ter­vene and was hit sev­eral times with the ma­chete, ac­cord­ing to Wood.

Boen and Wood said they didn’t know why the bearded man re­acted the way he did.

The man left the scene be­fore au­thor­i­ties ar­rived, Boen said, leav­ing his tent, mat­tress and other be­long­ings be­hind.

Wood said he spoke with the man’s sis­ter, who said he made his liv­ing on a poker tour and camped out be­tween tour­na­ments. His next stop was to be in North Carolina next month.

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