Searchers Say Craig Arnold, Missing Since April, Has Died

5.11.09

A search team on the Japanese island of Kuchino-erabu announced on Friday afternoon that a trail they had recently discovered showed signs that Craig Arnold, the forty-one-year-old poet who had been missing since April 26, suffered a leg injury, then fell from a cliff and died shortly thereafter. "Though Craig himself has not been recovered, the amazing expert trackers of [1st Special Response Group] have been able to make themselves and us certain of what has become of Craig," Arnold's partner of six years, Rebecca Lindenberg, wrote in a letter posted on the Poetry Foundation's Web site. "His trail indicates that after sustaining a leg injury, Craig fell from a very high and very dangerous cliff and there is virtually no possibility that Craig could have survived that fall."

Lindenberg added that Arnold's brother, Chris, would urge specialists to attempt to recover the poet's body, but that the area is "very, very dangerous," and it remains uncertain whether that is possible. "The only relief in this news is that we do know exactly what befell Craig, and we can be fairly certain that it was very quick, and that he did not wait or wonder or suffer."

A day before the search team made the announcement, friends, family, and searchers remained hopeful that Arnold would be found alive. An update on the Facebook page Find Craig Arnold reads, in part: "Officials on Kuchino-erabu...believe they have identified where Craig's tracks end at a steep incline. The team believes that Craig went down that incline but they do not believe it would necessarily be a fatal fall."

Arnold had travelled to Japan on a fellowship from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission. "I'm more broken-hearted for him than the poems he didn't live to write," Jacqueline Osherow told the Salt Lake Tribune. Osherow, a professor at the University of Utah, where Arnold received his PhD in 2001, wrote a letter recommending Arnold for the fellowship. "This is a loss to American literature and letters. It's wrong to say he was full of promise, because he delivered on that."