By Alton Porter
After going missing and being lost for almost two full days, an elderly Houston County man was found by searchers and reunited with his wife and family late Sunday morning, Nov. 12.
Frank Roth, 70, and his dog Sunshine were found by a search party just before 11 a.m. Sunday near where he had last been seen walking the dog in the area of County Road 1860 and Grapeland Country Club late last Friday afternoon.
After being located and his wife joined him at the scene, Roth was transported by helicopter to a Tyler hospital to be checked out.
According to a written statement released by Chief Deputy G.P. Shearer of the Houston County Sheriff's Office, when Roth was located, he seemed "to be okay."
"His dog Sunshine was found by his side and she was happy to see everyone as well," Shearer's statement noted. "He (Roth) was talking and able to recognize family and friends while at the scene."
Shearer wrote, Roth had "several scratches on his body, but (had) no complaints of serious injuries."
The chief deputy gave this account of the ordeal, Roth "took Sunshine for a walk by a lake near his home late Friday and never returned. Family (members) became concerned and contacted Sheriff's Office (personnel)," who "began to search for (him) immediately and summoned assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety."
A helicopter equipped with FLIR (forward looking infrared radar) was dispatched to the scene, and sheriff's deputies and state troopers searched the immediate area along the lake's shoreline for any signs of Roth and Sunshine.
Saturday, Texas Parks and Wildlife searchers joined in the search with three police dogs and their handlers, along with a boat—equipped with a side-scan-radar system—to search the almost 40-acre lake. They also searched wooded areas around homes in the area.
Sunday, East Texas Mounted Search & Rescue (ETMSAR) brought in more than 20 people to assist in the search, and the search area was expanded. Soon afterwards, a team with ETMSAR located Roth a mile south of the lake through pastureland and heavy timber.
When he was found, he was laying on the ground inside a thick canopy of trees. The ground was sloped and Roth reportedly had lost his balance while traversing the wooded area Friday evening.
Grapeland's emergency medical service (EMS) responded to the scene, initiated treatment and started administering fluids to Roth. And the Air Rescue helicopter arrived shortly afterward and transported him to the hospital.
As soon as word broke Friday that Roth was missing, the Courier immediately posted the paper's first message about the ordeal on Facebook.
The Courier followed up that initial post with numerous Facebook updates, keeping readers apprised of developments in the missing person case and alerting the public to be on the lookout for Roth. Many Facebook readers responded to the Courier's posts.
The Houston County Sheriff's Office thanks "all agencies that assisted in this operation"—Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, East Texas Mounted Search & Rescue, Grapeland EMS and Air Rescue—as well as Roth's family members and friends, and Grapeland Country Club personnel who assisted in the successful search.