A 19-year-old Texas man drowned after he was electrocuted Thursday while attempting to move his horse during Tropical Storm Imelda, his family said.
Hunter Morrison’s death is the first to result from torrential rains and severe flooding that has swept across parts of east Texas after Imelda made landfall Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office shared a message from an unidentified Morrison family member to clarify the circumstances of Hunter’s death 11 miles southwest of Beaumont, where authorities were warning that a levee could possibly burst.
“Right now my family and I are going through one of the most horrific times in our lives with losing Hunter,” the statement read. “Thank you for all the kind words and phone calls I have received over the past 8 [hours] but I do want to clarify something….he wasn’t “saving” people. He was trying to move his horse, got electrocuted, and drowned.”
“I just want the facts to be straight and not give him a sense of false heroism,” the statement continued.
The family reported Morrison’s death to authorities at about 12:30 p.m. Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Crystal Holmes said an autopsy won’t be performed to establish the cause of death for several days because of the storm, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency warning for several counties, saying “life-threatening amounts of rainfall” have already fallen. Jefferson County was drenched by more than 40 inches of rain in a span of just 72 hours.
County officials reported a combination of at least 1,000 high-water rescues and evacuations to get people to shelter in ongoing rescue efforts.
At least 700 flights were also canceled Thursday at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and an additional 200 flights were delayed.
Gov. Greg Abbott declared disaster areas in 13 counties suffering from severe flooding and heavy rainfall.