Teen disappears while swimming in rain-swollen San Jacinto River

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by Alice Barr / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Updated Thursday, May 29 at 5:21 PM

HOUSTON -- By Jet Ski, boat, helicopter, and on foot, search and rescue crews were looking for any sign of a missing teenager in the San Jacinto River near Conroe.

His mother identified him as is 18-year-old Jared Brimhall. His friends and family joined in too, searching through the night.

“I have walked this entire river searching for him,” said the victim’s friend Cody Day.

A bystander shot drone video hoping to offer some clues from the air. It shows how high the river is now, and how quickly-moving. We watched it whip a log in a circle. Recent heavy rain is making it even more dangerous than normal.

“Me and him would always go swimming in this place, but this is the first time he’s gone out too far and got swept away,” said Day.

It happened around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Terrence Morrison was out fishing on the river bank and saw Brimhall go in to swim with his girlfriend. He said there were signs of trouble right away.

“As he really started laboring, I hit send, 911, tried to get down where I could maybe throw a fishing line, whatever to him, couldn’t,” said Morrison.

From there, Morrison could only watch and wait for help.

“His girlfriend had gathered him up and leaned back with him but he was still fighting the water,” said Morrison. “She couldn’t, she couldn’t hold on. The last thing he had was her leg.”

The girlfriend managed to get back up on the bank, but Brimhall couldn’t.

It’s a horrifying familiar scene to Morrison.

“I’ve been in this situation. My 15-year-old cousin saved me from the river and died when I was 13,” he said.

Now he wants other teens to remember this:

“That’s 15,000 gallons of water per minute. There’s not a human being in the world that can hold up to it. Don’t try, please God don’t try.”

Brimhall just became a new father and he should be graduating from Conroe High School on Saturday. His mother is now asking for prayers, while family and friends hold on to hope that he made it out somewhere downstream.

“Because he would fight until he got out,” said Day. “That’s the way he was, was a fighter.”

Lieutenant Brady Fitzgerald, with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office said the speed of the river, and the amount of debris floating in it, has made it very difficult to search. He said sonar equipment they would normally use won’t work because of the debris, washed up in the recent rainstorm.

Still, they plan to continue with the search for as long as possible, while Brimhall’s family and friends have no plans to slow down.

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