Submerged SUV with body inside found in search for Thomas Thornton

Thomas Thornton was last seen on March 24. His SUV with a body inside was found Sunday.

Exactly seven months after he went missing, Thomas Thornton’s SUV was found submerged near Huxley Bay Boat Ramp Sunday morning in Shelby County. A body was found inside the vehicle.

Thornton, 72, had not been seen since a surveillance camera captured him leaving a gas station in Hemphill on Wednesday, March 24. The Vietnam War veteran who lived in the Mt. Neches area of Tyler County had been suffering from early stages of dementia.

Thornton’s sister, Norma Armstrong, contacted KFDM 6 News to let us know that the organization Adventures with Purpose had contacted her Saturday offering to assist in the search to find her brother. The group searches for submerged vehicles and runs on donations, she said.

The family and Adventures with Purpose met at Huxley Bay Marina on Sunday since that was the last location where Thornton’s cell phone pinged.


“They use sonar. They found and marked the vehicle within about ten minutes,” Armstrong said.

“They sent divers down which came back with the license plates of his car,” Armstrong told KFDM. “From there, they called Shelby County Sheriff’s Office which came out and then called a wrecker,” Armstrong said.

“They broke the window, and my brother was inside the car,” she noted.

“These are some wonderful people,” Armstrong said of the organization Adventures with Purpose.

The group posted a video account of their search online.

An autopsy will ultimately confirm it’s Thornton’s body inside the vehicle.

“It is our honor to have brought Thomas home for a proper military burial,” a searcher from Adventures with Purpose posted on Facebook.

Written by Aaron Drawhorn

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