TEXSAR volunteers celebrate rescue reunion

(Photo courtesy: TEXSAR)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Among the many people searching in vain for Deputy Jessica Hollis this week were the volunteers from Texas Search and Rescue (TEXSAR). Saturday, the all-volunteer group held a fundraiser at Williamson County Park, and a special reunion with someone they saved last year. Sometimes there are happy endings.

In October 2013, Cathie Frye, an Arkansas newspaper reporter, was hiking in Big Bend with her husband Rick when they took a wrong turn and got lost. After two days, out of provisions in scorching heat, she was finished.

“Finally I couldn’t go anymore,” Cathie recalls. “We were out of water. I told him to leave me.”

Realizing it was their only hope, Rick did. Stumbling along in a daze, he somehow made it to a Rangers camp. Then the rescue began, with help from TEXSAR.

After four days and four nights, she was stripped naked, scarred from cactus, parched and delirious. Then, she heard something in the harsh barren desert.

“A group of TEXSAR guys were calling my name from a ridge a quarter mile away. I don’t remember answering the first couple of times but I apparently yelled for help.”

The rescuers rushed to her side, and to this day, it is a moment they will never forget.

“Cathie touched our lives more than she knows,” TEXSAR volunteer Shawn Hohnstreiter said. “It was given to us in her rescue.”

As they approached, Cathie thought she might be hallucinating, “I saw them, I thought, okay, people, maybe they’re real, maybe they’re not, ha.”

For TEXSAR, hopeful rescues too often turn to grim recoveries, but not this time.

“We don’t expect that outcome often,” Hohnstreiter said. And sadly, it’s a recovery more often than not but to be able to bring someone home to their family, well…”

The words choke there, but we get it. Well done, TEXSAR.

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