Man swept away in San Jacinto River after being thrown off horse

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Witnesses say the missing man was swept away after being bucked from his horse (KTRK)

A man is missing after he fell off a horse and into a river in Montgomery County Sunday. Witnesses say the missing man was swept away after being bucked from his horse.

It was supposed to be a day like so many others. Family members say Leroy Rubio and two friends rode their horses along the river, but this time, something went horribly wrong. Rubio's horse somehow got spooked.

"They were riding horses. They got horses to get water and it bucked him off," said Jeanette Arellano, Rubio's sister-in-law.

Deputies from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office responded along with the Caney Creek, Needham Road, South Montgomery County and Central Montgomery County Fire Departments. Boats were dispatched through the afternoon and into the evening looking for Rubio. As the sun set, the task became even more daunting.

"This river is full of debris. It's an extremely difficult river to maneuver through," said Chief Raymond Flannelly with the Montgomery County Fire Department.

By 8:30pm, the rescue crews stopped and pulled their boats out. Watching intently along the river bank was Rubio's long time neighbor, Rod Schlotte, who says Rubio's Sunday horse ride was a weekly ritual.

"He couldn't hang on to the horse. He started floating from here," said Schlotte, motioning to a curve along the San Jacinto River. "He floated 300 yards, and the last time they saw him was down over there. And that's it. He went down and that's it."

Officials say the search will resume in the morning.

Sunday's incident happened in the same area where an 18-year-old drowned May 2014.
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