Whitehouse teen narrowly survives flood while camping

By Courtney Lane - bio | email

WHITEHOUSE, TX (KLTV) - Two East Texas teens were camping at Albert Pike when disaster struck. Austin Rachal, 13, and Brady Pate, both at Whitehouse, survived. Unfortunately, Austin's dad, step-brother and sister did not make it out alive.

A camping trip with dad. An adventure Austin Rachal had been looking forward to. But early Friday morning, a 23-foot high wall of water swept through the Albert Pike campsite. Austin says it happened in a matter of minutes.

"We saw our family getting out of the camper and they were panicking and then they all piled up in the truck saying 'scoot in' and a lot of them were crying and saying that it was flooding," said Austin.

They were standing in the back of a truck but Austin says one of the kids in their group fell out. Austin's dad Anthony jumped out to try and save the boy named Tyler. That's the last time Austin saw his dad alive.

"He bear-hugged him onto a tree and Tyler said 'don't let go of me Anthony,' which is my dad's name, and he said 'I won't buddy' and then a big wave happened to them and just about everybody, cause that's when the current started getting faster and that's when he said he felt my dad going underneath his feet lower and lower."

Austin and his friend Brady stayed close together fighting to keep their heads above water.

"When it happened we all started drowning but then we got back up and we found the first tree except... the first one broke by moving debris and whatnot and then the second one we found that one was the one. We just stayed there for 3 hours or so."

Austin says physically he's beat up and sore. Out of the 11 people that went camping in their group less than half are coming home.

Austin's step-mom did survive but lost her two children and husband, Austin's dad. Her family lives in Shreveport. Right now all the family asks for is prayers as they say it will be a long road to recovery.

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