Search for missing elderly man intensifies

January 25, 2011 3:16:01 PM PST
Texas EquuSearch and the Missouri City Police Department are searching for a man who went missing two days ago.

Jessie James Washington, 73, was driving with his family on Sunday when their truck ran out of gas. He walked off to get more fuel and disappeared.

Two full days of searching and there's been no sign the missing grandfather was ever in the area, and that makes the search all the more difficult and frustrating.

Two nights ago, there were storms moving through the area, and Washington and his family were in the middle of them. They'd intended to travel from Huntsville back to their home in Marshall, Texas but took a nearly 100-mile detour into Missouri City. The family was lost.

"And somehow Mr. Washington became disoriented and ended up here in Missouri City, and his vehicle ran out of gas shortly from here," said Russell Terry of the Missouri City Police Department.

He left his family in the car on Palm Harbor Drive, heading to a gas mart not far away but he never got there. Surveillance video is said to have no image of him. Police searched for him Sunday night in the neighborhood but no sign of the grandfather.

Now the search is intensifying.

Texas EquuSearch is doing what it does best, looking for the lost using aerial cameras; volunteers also are looking in nearby woods. Unfenced retention ponds that line the neighborhood are being searched as well, including the same pond where a few years ago, a couple drowned when their car hopped a curb and plunged into the water.

Washington also has health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure; he's been without his medicine for more than 48 hours.

"He's probably in desperate need of medical attention at this point," EquuSearch volunteer Frank Black said. "If he isn't in this area, hopefully they got him in some shelter."

Shelters have been checked, and there hasn't been a sign Washington ever went to them.

His family has returned to Marshall, where they're waiting for word. The search is expected to resume Wednesday morning.