Body found in search for missing 28-year-old father in town for his baby's liver transplant

Charly Edsitty Image
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Body found in search for father who was in town for baby's transplant
An Oklahoma family who came to Houston for life-saving surgery for their child will now return home without their father.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A body has been found in the search for a missing 28-year-old father from Oklahoma who was last seen in the Texas Medical Center.

ABC13 confirmed Tuesday afternoon, just before 1 p.m., that a body was found in Brays Bayou near MacGregor Park, where Texas EquuSearch crews have been looking for Ridge Cole.

EquuSearch said they were coordinating with homicide detectives for a joint search. As EquuSearch members waited for authorities, they went out to find the fastest route to the bayou, and within 10 minutes, they spotted something that needed to be looked at.

While investigators cannot say the body found is Cole, EquuSearch volunteers who found the body said the description matches.

"Mom is devastated, but there is also an obvious sense of relief. Her biggest fear was going back home to Oklahoma without her baby. And she doesn't have to do that now," Mark Edwards, with Texas EquuSearch, said.

Cole and his family arrived in Houston two weeks ago as his 13-month-old baby boy was set to undergo a liver transplant. Cole, his mother, wife, and son were staying at the Ronald McDonald House Charities. He was last seen on Nov.11, in the 1900 block of Holcombe Boulevard in the Texas Medical Center, according to Texas EquuSearch.

Tim Miller, who founded Texas EquuSearch, said Cole had gone for a walk along Brays Bayou, where some of his belongings were found.

"He somehow slipped into the bayou. It's a terrible vertical ledge, and we found personal effects on the bank where he had been sitting, and it really pointed to that he had entered the water," Edwards said.

On Tuesday, a volunteer team found a body 3.5 miles from where they believe Cole fell.

The family came to Houston for life-saving surgery for their child, but will now return home without their father. Despite this, they still find gratitude in their hearts.

"They sent me with a message to thank everybody, the media, Houston Police Department, and missing person's detectives. They thank Texas EquuSearch. Genuine, genuine thanks to the City of Houston and the Ronald McDonald House, they have been so hospitable," Edwards said.

While the medical examiner's office has not identified the body as that of Cole's, EquuSearch said they are confident their search for the missing father has concluded.