GLEN ROSE - The search for a missing Stephenville teen was slowed Thursday following another heavy rainstorm Wednesday night that complicated the search effort.
Courtney Elizabeth Butler, 16, disappeared in the Paluxy River on Tuesday after jumping in the water to help save her boyfriend. Butler and a group of friends were playing near a low water crossing when the accident occurred. Butler is presumed to have drowned and a search-and-recovery mission is under way.
Teyran “Ty” Patterson, 28, a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden, drowned on Wednesday while searching for the missing teen. The boat carrying Patterson and another game warden, Danny Tuggle, capsized in the fiercely raging waters.
Tuggle was flown to Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth and later released.
Divers with the Department of Public Safety joined the search Thursday, but dangerous conditions prevented the divers from entering the water.
Officials heading up the search evaluated the route where they believe Butler’s body might have floated and determined that the water was still too rough for divers to enter.
“The water level is dropping, but it’s still too dangerous for the divers to get in,” Major Rolly Correa with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said.
By late Thursday afternoon, searchers continued to scour a 2-mile stretch of the river that reached downtown Glen Rose by boats, kayaks and helicopter.
Searchers are focusing along the edges of the bank and divers will enter the water today if conditions improve, Correa said.
The depth of the Paluxy River is normally about 3-feet, but with the recent rains, the river in some areas is estimated to be at least 12-feet deep, according to law enforcement officials.
Lights were set up along the banks downstream to allow volunteers to continue searching overnight. The Salvation Army set up a command post to provide food and drinks to the searchers. A full-scale search will resume first thing this morning.
SARA VANDEN BERGE covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.