Family Speaks After Teen Son Survives 100-Foot Fall from Arkansas’ Iconic Whitaker Point

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FORT SMITH, Ark. — Austin Elder is improving — words many have hoped to hear.

The 19-year-old man fell 100 feet off Arkansas’ iconic Whitaker Point over the weekend. Since then the outpouring of support from friends, family and complete strangers has moved his mother to tears.

Elder is the only person to ever survive a fall from Whitaker Point. He is currently in a trauma center in Springfield, Mo., where doctors have him in a coma. On Monday his mother and other family members gathered for a brief interview via Skype with FOX 4’s sister station KFSM.

“The outpouring has been amazing from our community,” said Gina Rogers, mother. “It’s been overwhelming, and that gives us the strength to get through these times knowing that our friends — and people we don’t even know — are praying for our son who is fighting for his life.”

Elder was camping with friend over the weekend when, around 2:30 or 3 a.m. on Saturday, the two walked to Whitaker Point (also known as Hawksbill Crag) to look at the stars. Elder apparently stepped too close to the edge and fell off. He suffered head trauma, a collapsed lung, broken pelvis and internal bruising. Doctors performed surgery on Sunday to reduce the swelling to his brain. Currently, his family says he’s “holding his own.”

“He’s overcome a lot of hurdles,” Rogers said during her Skype interview. “He’s still very critical, but he’s holding his own.”

The family has set up a Facebook page “Prayers for Austin Elder” where thousands have joined in praying and supporting the family and his recovery.

For further updates on Elder, visit

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