Search resumes for missing cattle herder

November 2, 2009 10:08:14 AM PST
Three men spent their Sunday afternoon herding cattle in Liberty County, but only two came home. The search continues for the third man, who disappeared near the rain swollen Trinity River.Relatives of 45-year-old Gene Roberts are holding out hope that he will be found alive. He disappeared while herding cattle on horseback yesterday afternoon near the Trinity River.

Places that would normally be dry there are now eight feet under water. Water is still rising and that's hampering the search for Roberts.

Flying low in the sky, a helicopter swept the scene and new volunteers continue to arrive to search for Roberts. But all his wife, Linda Roberts, can do is just wait.

"Oh my god, it's like a dream," she said. "I keep waiting to wake up."

Roberts was last seen yesterday afternoon on horseback, helping two other men herd cattle away from the rising waters of the Trinity River. His family says he took off after a stray cow and never came back.

"A few hours later, they found the horse, but not my dad and when they found the horse, he was under water except for his head," said the missing man's daughter, Amy August.

This morning, search crews returned to comb the area on boats, horses and four wheelers. But Dayton police have prevented anyone from wandering near the swollen river on foot, saying it is too dangerous.

"Very high water, some of the water is moving rather rapidly," said Sgt. John Coleman with the Dayton Police Department. "Of course, there's mosquitoes, there are snakes, still warming up that there may be a few alligators out there."

Family members say Roberts was a cowboy who spent every spare minute with his horses and knew this land well.

"(He's) real outgoing. He loves horses and cows and that is just what he does. He loves that. Every spare minute, that's what he's doing. Everyday he's with the horses," said Linda. "That's why we're so comfortable when he goes out, because he knows what he's doing. So this is like a shock."

They are hoping he is out there somewhere like them, just waiting.

"We are just waiting for someone to come and get him," said Linda.

Authorities say they have at least 30 people actively searching this area. That includes some people from Equusearch, who arrived at the scene this morning. Dayton police also say they have enlisted help from the FBI which is expected to send a special surveillance plane to give a better view of this landscape.

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