The search continues for missing woman from horseback incident

The search is continuing for 24-year-old, Marquita Medrano, after she was reported missing early Monday evening.

She and her niece, 7-year-old, Emily Purcell, were reported missing around 6 pm Monday evening after they were last seen around noon that day horseback riding near the 60/83 Canadian highway bridge. Officials found the horse the two had been riding around 8:20 pm Monday just a short distance southeast of the bridge. Approximately 15-20 minutes later, the pilot and volunteers on horseback located one of the missing riders in a semi-flooded area approximately 2-3 miles south of the bridge. The victim was 7-year-old Emily Purcell.

The search and rescue team said they are battling the river conditions to continue the search for Medrano, however, the combination of thick mud, high grass, heavy mesquite and debris from the rain are creating low visibility and difficult mobility.

â??Weâ??re just covering as much as we can in the same areas, going back over it as it becomes more visible and accessible, with the water receding somewhat,â?? said Sheriff Morse Burroughs, Hemphill County sheriff. â??Some of those places the officers are having to get off of their horses and actually walking to check as much as they can without getting themselves stuck.â??

At this point, officials say there is no way of telling what caused the incident. They said the river was running fairly high and swiftly yesterday morning before the two were riding alongside the river. However, they said it had receded by yesterday evening when they continued their search.

â??Weâ??re dealing with probably fairly swift moving water. Depth-wise it varies from a few inches all the way to neck deep. Thereâ??s a lot of holes in that river area down there. So itâ??s extremely treacherous and dangerous for the searchers, horses and everybody thatâ??s out there,â?? said Burroughs.

Various organizations and departments are involved with the search. Law enforcement officials, volunteers, firefighters, EMS, a DPS aircraft, search dogs, and shallow water boats are all a part of the search and rescue work. Despite the subpar conditions, officials said they remain hopeful for a positive outcome.

â??We always have hope. We want to do a rescue as opposed to a recovery, but unfortunately, the reality is, the area down there is not really that conducive to that,â?? said Burroughs.