Body of missing cyclist found in ravine near Lake Grapevine

06/23/2014 2:01 PM

06/23/2014 5:05 PM

The body of a Roanoke bicyclist who was the focus of an intense two-day search was found Monday afternoon in a ravine near Lake Grapevine, officials said.

Searchers found the body of Wesley Hixson, 30, about 1:40 p.m. in a ravine northeast of Twin Coves Marina at the lake, Flower Mound police said in a news release.

Police have no reason to believe that foul play was involved in Hixson’s death, said Capt. Richard Brooks, a Flower Mound police spokesman.

“We have nothing to lead us into a direction or take us away from a direction,” Brooks said.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death, police said.

Hixson was last seen about 10 a.m. Saturday by his riding partner heading off on a trail on the north shore of Lake Grapevine.

Hixson “just disappeared,” Brooks said.

Hixson may have sustained a head injury in a crash that happened just before he rode away, Brooks said.

The trees and undergrowth are so thick in places that a searcher would have had to be standing next to Hixson to see him, Brooks said. The foliage is so dense that it sometimes defied a thermal imaging camera, designed to see body heat from a helicopter.

“It wasn’t able to see down into the canopy in some areas,” Brooks said.

Hixson was the son of Arlington fire Lt. Tom Hixson.

“The Hixson family would like to thank everyone who came out and gave support in the search efforts. Keep the Hixson family in your prayers,” the Fire Department tweeted Monday afternoon.

In addition to a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter, hundreds of people joined the search, including officers on bicycles, all-terrain vehicles and watercraft, Brooks said.

Searchers came from Lewisville Police Department, the DPS, the Denton County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Search One Rescue, Texas Search and Rescue, Denton County Friends of the Family, community emergency response teams from Flower Mound and Denton County, as well as firefighters from Arlington, Flower Mound, Mansfield and Grapevine, Brooks said.

Many others wanted to help but were turned away, because of hazardous conditions, Brooks said.

“This is such a dangerous environment that we’re trying to use people who have been specifically trained for such environments,” Brooks.

“The trail system is the North Shore Trail, 22.5 miles of bike trails,” Brooks said. The trails go “off into thick cover, and we searched 1,500 acres of that. We thoroughly gridline-searched that 1,500 acres — 600 acres with dogs, 900 acres by foot, with ATVs, boats and by air.”

On Monday, searchers started spreading out from the Rockledge Park lot, where Hixson left his vehicle, Arlington fire spokesman Lee Tovar said. The trail system continues into Murrell Park.

“His billfold and phone were still in the truck,” Tovar said.

Hixson’s father thanked all the searchers late Sunday in a Facebook post, with a shout-out to his peers.

“The support from my brother firefighters show how the fire service is a special breed,” Tom Hixson wrote. “Thanks again for everyone’s thoughts and prayers.”

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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