GRAPELAND, TEXAS - 'We ride so that others may live.' That's the motto of the East Texas Mounted Search and Rescue organization, and they recently put their motto in action to save a 70-year-old missing man in Grapeland.
Frank Roth went missing late afternoon on Nov. 10 while taking the family dog, Sunshine, for a walk.. Roth suffers from Parkinson's disease and needed his medicine that he takes multiple times a day.
The Houston County Sheriff's department along with multiple organizations and volunteers started searching that very night. A helicopter with infrared technology flew in to help, but couldn't find any sign of life.
The family started a Facebook page as well, asking for help locating their beloved family member.
The next day, the Sheriff's office had people on the water, a dive team, and search dogs.
It was also the day Ruth Hall with ETMSAR saw the post about Roth being missing on Facebook. She then called to offer the groups assistance.
The next morning, Nov. 12, the equine group arrived to help search. They say when they arrived with all the cars and trailers, people were watching and "thinking the calvary has arrived," according to Novalene Thurston.
They then mounted up, splitting into two groups and started searching.
Shortly thereafter, one of the groups found Roth's sweatshirt. So they radioed back to where everyone was organized and two additional riders started heading that direction to help.
Elisabeth Goodwin started yelling Frank's name and says she heard what she thought was a dog's yip. She thought that it was Sunshine, who had stayed with her owner.
The next time she called Roth's name he responded "yeah."
Within the first hour of searching, the group found Roth and Sunshine.
The pair were in a small area surrounded by brambles and thorny vines when Goodwin reached them, and Roth was covered in scratches.
Realizing how small the area was, the rider group knew a stretcher couldn't get to him, so they used pruning shears and a folding saw to cut away the vines for emergency personnel.
Roth's wife, Bev, said "you rascal you!" when she saw him for the first time after being found.
His daughter, Amy Roth Simian, said he was walking for about 12 hours straight before he stopped. He was hungry, dehydrated, and couldn't walk any further.
The only injuries were those scratches and the dehydration. Roth spent a couple of days in the hospital before going home. The most recent post on the family Faceook page says:
Frank is home from the hospital, and we are enjoying simple good food, household puttering, short errands, naps, and catching up with friends who have supported us with their love and their prayers during this Extreme Wilderness Adventure. Sunshine's sore feet are a thing of the past, and she is back to the full-time job of keeping track of the two of us,, probably heaving a sigh of relief when we head out on an errand so she can rest.
Thank you, everyone, those we know and those we don't. Your support was both palpable and effective. We are thankful for the immediacy, availability and thoroughness of high-tech search and rescue efforts summoned by the Houston County Sheriff's Department, the Texas Dept. of Public Safety, the Texas Parks and Wildlife folks, the Palestine Fire and Rescue Dive Team, the East Texas Mounted Search and Rescue team, Grapeland's own EMS, the Houston County Air EMS helicopter, East Texas Medical Center in Tyler, our precious neighbors at the lake, the media and social media which - we believe - all worked together to bring our family the best possible outcome.
I can't help humming the old blessing, "O, the Lord's been good to me.....". Our Thanksgiving 2017 began Sunday, November 12, thanks to GOD and to you.
The family is so grateful to ETMSAR that they started a Facebook Fundraiser. Over $2,000 dollars has already been raised.
The equine search group is thankful for the monetary help and plans to spend more time training for the next time they are needed.
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