ETMC Helicopter Plays Role In Search, Rescue

A search and rescue mission over the weekend near Mineola, after a man and his two sons turned up missing for more than 15 hours.

Lee Keener, his 9-year-old son Hunter and 7-year-old son Trevor, were fishing on the Sabine River Saturday afternoon when their boat began taking on water. Keener attempted to get the water out of the boat, but was unsuccessful.

After the boat sank, the three were stranded. Keener's wife called authorities just before 2 a.m. After searching through the night, game wardens called in the helicopter from East Texas Medical Center in Tyler.

Within a matter of hours Sunday morning, the crew of Air 1 located the family. Keener said the sound of the helicopter was music to his ears.

"It seemed like he was circling in one place for 30-40 minutes and it sounded like he was leaving and we were in just a little bit of an opening there and that's where he saw us."

Pilot Drew Lofdahl said the family was fortunate.

"Unfortunately when boats are overturned in a fast river, and the river was moving pretty fast, you don't always come out with good results, so we were really happy that we could find them and it did come out o.k."

The Keeners had a chance to thank Lofdahl in person Tuesday. The family says they won't stop fishing, but will be better prepared in the future.

The Air 1 crew wasn't the only group involved in the rescue. Game wardens from four different counties led the search as well as members of the Wood County Sheriff's Department and Mineola police and fire departments.

Chris Gibson, reporting