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Front Page November 14, 2017  RSS feed

“Man Alive” was music to the ears of rescuers in Grapeland

By Sherry Matney


Members of the Leon County East Texas Mounted Search and Rescue: Kellye Tuxen, Ruth Hall, Robert Hall, Frankie Young, Ron Fillmore, Elisabeth Goodwin, Robert Olinger, Bobbie Coddington, Thomas O’Meara, Novalene Thurston, Andy Stewart, Karyn Taylor, Ronda Allman and Cal Monteith. Members of the Leon County East Texas Mounted Search and Rescue: Kellye Tuxen, Ruth Hall, Robert Hall, Frankie Young, Ron Fillmore, Elisabeth Goodwin, Robert Olinger, Bobbie Coddington, Thomas O’Meara, Novalene Thurston, Andy Stewart, Karyn Taylor, Ronda Allman and Cal Monteith. “Man Alive!” It's not just an expression! But on Sunday, it was reality! Leon County East Texas Mounted Search and Rescue team successfully found and released Frank Roth and his dog Sunshine from the vines in which Roth was tangled. Although the vines did not catch Sunshine, he never left his master’s side.

On Friday, November 10, at about 5:00 p.m. Roth and Sunshine took their customary walk and were not seen until Sunday morning when the ETMSR come to the rescue. The two often walked around the beautiful lake at the Grapeland Country Club and so the first searches began in that area. Expecting the worst the Houston County Sheriff’s department focused on the lake with divers. Helicopters were brought in, but to no avail, even drones were used.


Frank Roth with his best friend, Sunshine. Frank Roth with his best friend, Sunshine. One of the ETMSR members lives close to the area of the search and, after Saturday’s search was unsuccessful, asked if their group might be needed. The offer was gladly accepted and at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 12, the group began its search. Every member had a job. Bobbie Coddington and Novaleen Thurston worked the radios and two teams of five riders began to look for Frank Roth and Sunshine.

ETMSR concentrated their search in a different area. Ronda Allman found the first clue, a sweatshirt. She told reporters that she picked up the shirt and began yelling Roth’s name. She thought she heard a dog and continued to call his name. Finally he answered and Elisabeth Goodwin had the honor of finding the lost man, who was entangled in some vines. He was dehydrated but conscious and in fair condition.

Family members reported Roth and Sunshine missing after he failed to return home on Friday evening. They attempted to get him “qualified” for a Silver Alert but were unsuccessful. Roth suffers from Parkinson’s but did not meet the criteria to make the alert. He had been missing for two nights when found.

The family of Frank Roth was elated to hear the news of the recovery and members of the Leon County ETMSR were almost as happy and relieved.

Novaleen Thurston said she felt so humbled and excited to be a part of the rescue. “We train for events like this but sometimes we wonder if we will ever get to use the skills we have learned. We were all excited to hear those ‘Man Alive’ words ringing over the radios!”

“We ride so others may live,” is more than the slogan of these local heroes. Names of the Leon County East Texas Mounted Search and Rescue are: Kellye Tuxen, Ruth Hall, Robert Hall, Frankie Young, Ron Fillmore, Elisabeth Goodwin, Robert Olinger, Bobbie Coddington, Thomas O’Meara, Novalene Thurston, Andy Stewart, Karyn Taylor, Ronda Allman and Cal Monteith.


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