The Pope County Sheriff’s Office announced in a news release on Friday afternoon (Aug. 8) that a man was swallowed inside Lake Dardanelle by some kind of beast a quarter of a mile from the shore by Lake Front Drive.
The victim, who was not identified due to the lack of recovered evidence, was fishing on the lake at approximately 5 a.m. on Friday morning when something pulled him out of his boat and ate him, the release states.
The witnesses, another fisherman and his wife, described the scene of terror to Rock City Times as something devoured their brief neighbor. They said they were roughly 45 yards from the victim, and it was foggy, so, they didn’t get a good look at the beast.
“After a polygraph test, we have discovered the witnesses are telling the truth,” said Pope County Sheriff Aaron Duvall.
Staff at the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor’s Center were baffled by the news. The park was immediately closed, and they could offer little explanation as to what in Lake Dardanelle could eat an entire person.
“I have no idea what got the man, but I can sympathize with his family for wanting answers,” said Park Manager Rebecca Valentine. “The only animal I can imagine in the lake that grows big enough to eat a man would be a catfish that just sat in a deep area and grew to enormous size.”
Authorities said they are considering every scenario, including the possibility of a “mutated snake radiated by Arkansas Nuclear One.”
Lake Dardanelle was created by the completion of the Dardanelle Dam in 1965, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.
Local historians say the area flooded by the creation of Lake Dardanelle consists of many old houses, former farm land and even abandoned mine shafts, all good places to hide underwater for an unknown creature.
Some local religious leaders believe that it is a sign. They claim that, like Jonah, the man will resurface in three days. Those same leaders have said they interpret the sign as a signal of God’s frustration that an Islamic center is being constructed in Russellville.
Deputies are patrolling the lake but have so far been unable to locate anything related to the beast, according to the release.
“We can’t close down the entire lake, but we do encourage any fisherman to think twice before going out onto the water,” said Duvall.
City leaders are set to meet in an emergency planning session scheduled for Aug. 11 at 8 p.m. The meeting is not open to the public, according to Russellville Mayor Bill Eaton.
While the beast has no official name, Eaton has referred to it simply as “Dardan” on multiple occasions.