Wednesday 7 December 2016

'All I wanted to do was go home' - man drowns after posting picture of rising water outside car

Six people are reported dead in the latest bout of flooding, and three more people are missing, including two children who were swept away by floodwater

Rachael Revesz

Published 30/05/2016 | 18:45

The picture Darren Mitchell uploaded to social media
The picture Darren Mitchell uploaded to social media
Parts of Texas has been devastated by the floods

An overturned blue truck, lying on a bank next to gushing floodwater, was the last sign of Darren Charles Mitchell.

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The 21-year-old National Guardsman from Navasota reportedly called his family before vanishing amid heavy rain and flooding in Texas.

He rang his brother, Ro Mitchell, to say he was trapped but had made it outside of the truck.

Shortly afterwards, he posted a picture on Facebook showing the floodwater rising outside of his truck windows.

He wrote: “And all I wanted to do was go home.”

One witness, Lashandoe Smith, told CBS News that she watched as Mr Mitchell climbed in and out of his truck, apparently undecided, and about 10 minutes after he finally got back in, the car flipped upside down into the water.

Parts of Texas has been devastated by the floods
Parts of Texas has been devastated by the floods

His body was discovered in Kuykendall Creek on Sunday morning.

Mr Mitchell’s death is the latest in a growing line of fatalities in the state as at least six people were killed over the weekend and authorities search for three more, two of whom are children.

Texans are braced for more extreme weather as strong winds, large hail and possible tornadoes have been forecast for Texas this week.

“Large hail and damaging wind gusts are the biggest concerns,” The Weather Channel reported, adding that isolated tornadoes “can't be ruled out.”

Many people were drowned by quickly rising waters or when they found themselves trapped in their cars. In the past week alone, six people have been found dead.

Lela Holland, 64, was drowned when floodwaters flooded her home in Washington.

Jimmy Wayne Schaeffer, 49, from Brenham, drove his truck into high waters and was swept away. The town of Brenham was hammered with more than 19 inches of rain in 48 hours - more than Los Angeles usually gets in a year.

Pyarali Rajebhi Umatiya, 59, was found dead in Yegua Creek on Saturday, about 60 miles west of Houston.

Florida Molima, 23, also drowned in her car, while her husband, a cousin and another passenger survived.

One more man who drowned is being identified.

Flash flooding is a real risk as creeks can suddenly burst their banks within less than an hour.

Texas received $6.8 million in emergency funding and launched a new website to gather updates from hundreds of existing river gauges across the state, and 30 more will be installed over the next few months, some updating every 15 minutes.

Some gauges will also have cameras for viewers to watch the rising waters.

Evacuations across the state continue. Around 2,600 inmates from two prisons along the Brazos River in Fort Bend County near Houston were evacuated by bus over the weekend and sent to other prisons, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Authorities are still searching for the missing. They include a 10-year-old boy who slipped into the Brazos River after he had been fishing with some friends.

In Wichita, the search is ongoing for 11-year-old Devon Cooley who was swept away by water.

A 37-year-old man called Stephen Espedal is also reported missing after he was swept out to sea while trying to rescue a woman.

The rain stopped on Friday but much of the south-eastern areas remain clogged with water.

Travelers faced more misery over the weekend. At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, 24 flights were channeled and 104 delayed on Sunday, according to tracking website FlightAware.

The Houston area suffered its wettest April on record in 2016 and was declared a disaster zone with almost 14 inches of rain. A total of eight people were killed and around 1,000 homes were flooded.

The previous record was almost 11 inches of rain in April 1976.

Independent News Service

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