The search for horseback rider Marquita Medrano ended around 10:30 this morning, five days after it was launched and barely two miles as the crow flies from the point near the Canadian River Bridge north of town where it first began.
Medrano’s body was discovered on the Canadian River in about four feet of water located downstream from where the body of her six-year-old niece, Emily Purcell, had been found Monday evening. Medrano lay beneath a log, covered by sand, in an area that had already been searched numerous times but which was obscured by the flood waters that had overflowed the river banks since Sunday’s storms.
The discovery was made by two Texas Parks & Wildlife Service game wardens, who were floating the river on kayaks as part of a massive search team involving Search and Recovery teams from both Amarillo and Dallas, along with divers, Canadian Fire Department volunteers and Hemphill County law enforcement personnel.
Saturday’s two-pronged search was initiated from two staging points, one west of the railroad and walking bridges north of town, and the other downstream near the Abraham Gardens.
That effort ended abruptly, though, when word came that Medrano had been found, and all resources were redirected toward recovery.
Medrano and her niece were last seen Monday morning, when they embarked on a horseback ride down the Canadian River. They were reported missing around 6 pm Monday evening, and a search was immediately initiated by the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office.
Within about two hours, searchers discovered the still-saddled horse the two had been riding together standing downstream from the bridge. Emily’s body was found about 15 minutes later.
The search for Medrano continued by daylight throughout the following days by air, on horseback, on foot and in the water, involving as many as 50 law enforcement personnel, emergency responders and volunteers and covering an area from the US 60-83 bridge over the Canadian River to the Oklahoma state line.
Today, it has ended.