GALVESTON, Texas (FOX 26) - The weather in Galveston calmed enough Wednesday for Texas Equusearch to fully reboot their search for two siblings who’ve been missing for over a week.
About a dozen ATV riders searched the area in a five-mile radius of Eleven Mile Road, where it dead-ends into the Gulf of Mexico. The sandy beach there became the command post for the search, after Dina Escobar’s white minivan was found torched and abandoned behind a grassy ridge in the sand.
Equusearch began looking for Dina Escobar, 60, of Houston and her brother Rogelio Escobar, 65, of Houston over the weekend, but heavy rain and flooding Sunday into Monday hampered their search efforts.
Rogelio was last seen by family members on Sunday, August 26 at his home on Prudence Drive in Central Southwest Houston.
When his little sister Dina found out he was missing, she went out looking for him on Tuesday, August 28, according to her daughter Ligia Salamanca. Dina told family she was going to stop by her brother's home, but she and her van were never seen again. Galveston Police found the burned van on Thursday, but it wasn't until Saturday that the family was told the van belonged to Dina.
“This is the first case that we’ve had in like 1,900 cases that we’ve had the siblings missing,” said Jack Boggess, a search coordinator with Texas Equusearch.
Dina has four children. Rogelio has two sons. The cousins have spent much of the past week looking for their parents every day, rain or shine, in both Houston and Galveston.
“To lose a mom is like- it’s the worst feeling in the world, so it’s just really hard, and we just gotta keep praying and searching,” said Walter Salamanca, Dina's son.
The cousins have been looking for their parents with the help of drones.
“My brother actually has a drone that we’ve been using, so we’re just trying to scout some areas where the drone might be useful,” said Kenny Escobar, Rogelio's son.
Salamanca says his mom talked to her kids every day, so it was very strange when calls and texts went unanswered and when her Facebook activity stopped.
“She would have talked to one of us, or one of us would have known what’s going on,” said Salamanca.
On Saturday, their hearts dropped at the news of Dina’s burned car.
“It was really hard," said Salamanca. "I broke down.”
“It definitely looked like there was a lot of hatred by the way that the van was left,” said Escobar, adding his dad didn't have enemies. "My father is the type of person that would sit outside of his house all day and just wave at neighbors. All the neighbors know him."
While some fear the worst, they’re holding out hope for a safe return.
“I feel there’s foul play involved, but for the family’s sake, don’t give up," said Boggess. "Don’t give up.”
Houston police are handling the investigation of the Escobar siblings' disappearance. Police say they have active missing person cases for both Dina and Rogelio, and they are factoring in Dina’s burned van. Police declined to disclose any further details in the investigation.