The search continued Tuesday for a missing Mills County woman who was a passenger in pickup swept into the Pecan Bayou at Ten Mile Crossing early Sunday morning.
Brown County Sheriff’s officials identified the woman as Susan Smith, 59. Smith was riding in the back seat of the 2006 Nissan Frontier pickup when it entered high, swift moving water flowing across County Road 257 at 1:30 a.m., sheriff’s officials and Brownwood Fire Chief Eddy Wood said.
The driver, Kathy Armendarez, 40, of Brown County, was rescued after she was found clinging to a bank about 100 yards downstream.
The front seat passenger, Lynn Leonard, 29, also of Brown County, made it out of the water and walked out for help. Leonard had to wait until he encountered someone with a cell phone, and that person notified first responders around 8:30 a.m., triggering an extensive search by ground, water and air, Wood said.
He said it’s his understanding the three were a mother-daughter-boyfriend combination.
Command was transferred Tuesday morning to Brown County Emergency Management Coordinator David Creed. Creed said he understands Smith lives in Mullin but he had no other information on Smith or on Armendarez and Leonard.
Creed had no information on where the three were coming from or where they were going when the pickup entered the water.
Creed, speaking by phone early Tuesday afternoon, said game wardens and sheriff’s deputies had pulled away from the area due to rain and lightning, but hoped to return by mid-afternoon.
In a press briefing Sunday afternoon, Wood addressed the issue of the high water, saying, “when you’re headed out of town down Austin Avenue, you will notice when you cross (the Access Road) there’s a sign that says ‘high water Ten Mile Crossing.’ It’s a small sign but it does warn that you can’t get through.
“You go down and you turn left on County Road 257. There’s another half-gate that says ‘high water, road closed,’ So you do have to go around that, and then you end up at Ten Mile Crossing. When I approached that incident, there’s clearly high water over the roadway. It is absolutely a dangerous spot to be trying to cross in a vehicle.”
Wood said it’s impossible to block a road “100 percent” but when barricades are up, “we’re wanting to notify people, don’t go around this because there’s something down there that won’t let you pass through. If you see water that’s over the roadway, turn around, don’t drown, is the statement that we’d like to make, and this is a perfect example,” Wood said.
When firefighters were notified of the incident at 8:30 a.m., Wood said, firefighters began traveling toward Ten Mile Crossing and encountered Leonard.
“He described to (firefighters) where the driver of the vehicle was last seen, and the location of the vehicle and the other occupant,” Wood said.
“Our engine crew took him out to the Pecan Bayou, made access on a ranch, entered the swift water with their protective gear and extricated the victim. That victim was flown to Brownwood Regional Medical Center.”
A search for the missing vehicle and Smith took place along the bayou, but searchers found nothing, Wood said.
In addition to the Brownwood Fire Department, responding agencies included the City of Brownwood, Early and Zephyr fire departments, Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden, Lifegaurd Ambulance, Texas Department of Public Safety, Brown and Mills county sheriff’s offices and Brown County Emergency Management.
The DPS provided an aircraft for an ariel search Sunday, the fire chief said.