AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The search for a missing Central Texas sheriff’s deputy resumed Friday, a day after her patrol car was found swamped by floodwaters minutes after she radioed for help while checking flooded low-water crossings.
Austin-Travis County EMS Cmdr. Mike Benavides said searchers are focusing on Lake Austin and connected waterways, such as the Colorado River. Portions of the lake are closed to boat traffic so that dozens of emergency personnel won’t be interrupted or slowed in their search.
Efforts to locate the deputy had been suspended before nightfall Thursday because of the storms, which were remnants of Hurricane Odile.
The National Weather Service forecasts more heavy rain through Saturday over much of West Texas, with flash flood watches issued through Friday night. Rain fell Friday in Southeast Texas and elsewhere in the state, with high waters clogging roadways and impeding traffic in metro areas such as Austin and Houston.
Travis County sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade says the deputy, who has only been identified as a seven-year veteran of the department, was checking low-water crossings during storms. She radioed shortly before 2 a.m. CDT Thursday to say her patrol car was being washed away in an Austin-area subdivision.
Her empty car was found a short time later, but she could not be located.
“We believe she was swept into the low-water crossing by water going down the street,” Wade said. “We were searching all day and we will continue searching until we find something.”
Earlier this week, rainfall pelted parts of the state. In Plainview, about 45 miles north of Lubbock, 4½ inches of rain was reported over 24 hours ending at 2 p.m. CDT Thursday.
“We are getting moisture from Odile,” said Cory Van Pelt, a National Weather Service forecaster in New Braunfels. “We also got a lot of Gulf of Mexico moisture that came in, a combination of the two.”
The Austin area received 5 to 7 inches of rain early Thursday, Van Pelt said. About 40 miles north of Austin, near Jarrell, a weather service observer measured almost 1½ inches of rain within 30 minutes.
Austin-Travis County EMS handled three swift-water rescues in the region Thursday morning, Benavides said. No injuries were reported in those rescues.