Search for missing swimmers resumes Monday

Texas Game Warden Jake Noxon points to where two swimmers disappeared in the Trinity River on Sunday night. Standing to his right is Det. Sean Mitchell with the Liberty County Sheriff's Office. Mitchell used a drone helicopter to search the river by air. The search will resume Monday morning.

Two teenagers, ages 17 and 18, are missing in the Trinity River near the SH 105 bridge in Moss Hill after they disappeared while trying to rescue a 5-year-old girl Sunday night.

According to Sgt. Michelle Deshotel with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, the young girl became distressed while swimming in the water. The girl’s father, Abel Castellanos, as well as two unrelated teenagers jumped in the water to help her. She made it safely to shore.

The father was airlifted to a Houston area trauma center. The extent of his injuries is unknown. The two teenagers are believed to have drowned.

The family of the victims watched as a rescue boat from Tarkington VFD searched the murky waters. LCSO Det. Sean Mitchell, who is overseeing the investigation, used a drone aircraft to search the river from above.

The search for the two teenage boys – 18-year-old Jaerson Alvarez and 17-year-old Wilmer Alexi Rodriguez – will resume at sunrise Monday morning. Authorities felt the conditions of the river were too unsafe to continue the search at night.

According to Deshotel, the family is from Honduras and may have been unaware of the dangers of swimming in the Trinity River.

As the search was underway, the fire chiefs of Hardin, Tarkington and Cypress Lakes, and County Fire Marshal Bill Hergemueller discussed the dangers of the Trinity River.

“It’s the number 2 most-deadly river in the state. You should not swim in this river. Ever. Period,” said Cypress Lakes Fire Chief Erskin Holcomb.

“I don’t know why people want to swim here,” added Tarkington Fire Chief Paul Gregory.

With drownings a regular occurrence in the Trinity River, Texas Game Warden Lauren Iles said she has been concerned about all the recent activity on the river sandbar this year.

“There are a lot of people who come here from other cities and counties, and they might be unaware of the dangers. It’s just something we’ve been dreading all year,” Iles said. “The Trinity River is a very dangerous river. People who aren’t familiar with it might be deceived by how calm it looks on the surface, but below the surface there is a lot of hidden debris and a lot of currents you can’t see.”

Bluebonnet News will update this story on Monday after the search resumes.

Tarkington firefighters look for signs of two teenagers who disappeared in the Trinity River while trying to rescue a 5-year-old relative. The child survived, but it appears the two teenagers may have drowned. A fourth person, who was also trying to rescue the little girl, was airlifted to a Houston area trauma center.
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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. There is a sign just one it is as soon as you drive in. It’s so sad. There are people from out of town who told me their husband took them there to wade fish. I said no never do that again why she asked I said the currents are horrible people die there all the time. She said it was pulling us! But they came here from somewhere out of town and the husband grew up here. It’s a very dangerous river I hope nobody swims in it again ever!

  2. I have even been told by my friend While I was trying to get them not to swim in it she said well he is a good swimmer I understand and most are that drown trying to save someone. So sad! But what else can we do. Signs up and down the river from the other side of the river so people don’t take them down? One from the bridge really big in yellow warning ⚠️ Do not swim in this river very dangerous you may drown? Don’t get in the river?

  3. The report was they did not speak English. Consider metal signs . With several translations of NO SWIMMING .. It would cost more– but if it saved lives it would be worth it .

  4. They were swimming in the wrong side.
    You Wade swim the Trinity. You don’t go out over your head. These people parked on the bluff side where all the current is. The problem here was a lack of common sense. Me and my family have swam the river a thousand times throughout my life. You don’t swim while it’s up, swim on the bluff side, or fight the current.
    The Trinity is only unsafe for those who either don’t know it or don’t respect it. Any child should be heavily supervised and also be wearing a life jacket.

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