Late Sunday afternoon eleven year old Aaron Lloyd and his friend Johnny Whitehead age 12 decided to go hiking in the woods near their home in Liberty County. The area they chose which is approximately ten miles south of Dayton just off FM 1409 and County Road 417 and is part of the massive Trinity River Wildlife Refuge.
Setting flags out to mark their way they got deeper and deeper in the heavily forested land. According to the Ranger over the refuge since rain has not been plentiful the underbrush and thorns have grown quite thick.
About an hour into their adventure they found they lost their trail and also the trail of flags. It was at that point they called 911.
Just after 4pm Liberty County Sheriff’s Office dispatched units to the area to start a search. Deputy Marks was one of those deputies assigned to the call. Arriving on the scene the deputies fanned out and attempted to make contact with the boys. Unable to do so, two deputies entered the woods and tried to make contact with the boys.
After sometime an d a heavy rain shower the deputies made contact with the exhausted boys. As one deputy exited the woods another remained with the boys who were to exhausted to continue. With Marks wearing down also Captain Rex Evans contacted the Dayton Fire Department and the West Fire Departments. In addition he contacted DPS who dispatched a helicopter to the now dark woods. With DPS circling overhear attempting to locate the three with thermal imagers the United States Coast Guard responded with a helicopter and a swimmer. After an over fly they were able to locate the trio with their night vision and FLIR.
An attempt to put a swimmer into the forest to extract the three proved unsuccessful due to the rotor wash of the helicopter fanning the tree tops. The flight crew then lowered a radio, water and light sticks to the three.
Ground crews from both Fire Departments and a deputy then entered the pitch black woods. With the help of the Coast Guard spotlight they were directed to the three and then assisted bringing the three out..
The boys families were waiting when they came out as was Deputy Marks wife. Liberty County EMS crews checked the three and determined dehydration was the major factor affecting them. None were transported to the hospital.
Mr. Lloyd was very appreciative of all the effort put in by the Sheriff’s Office, DPS, Refuge Manager, Dayton and Westlake Firefighters and the US Coast Guard.
Captain Rex Evans of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office had command over the situation and was able to bring all agencies to work hand in hand with one another. He also credits the new radio system in enabling him to have communications with all the agencies involved. Prior to the new radios cell phones were heavily relied on.
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NOTE: VIDEO IS ABOUT 20 MINUTES WITH INTERVIEWS OF MISSING BOY, CAPT. EVANS, DEPUTY THAT WAS IN THE WOODS WITH THE BOYS, THE BOYS FATHER. WATCH AT 1:47 YOU WILL SEE THE COAST GUARD SWIMMER COMING BACK ABOARD THE HELICOPTER AFTER HE WASN’T ABLE TO PUNCH THROUGH THE TREE TOPS