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Tuesday
Jul262011

Missing Texas Man Found Alive in Manhole

Kevin Gonterman, 25, went missing in League City, Texas, on Saturday, July 23. He was found, alive but bitten by snakes and dehydrated, in a manhole near his home on July 25. (Courtesy of Texas Equusearch)(LEAGUE CITY, Texas) -- A mentally ill Texas man who was reported missing when he left home following a dispute with his girlfriend was found down a manhole, alive but dehydrated and suffering from multiple snake bites.

An incident report from the League City Police Department described 25-year-old Kevin Gonterman as "an intoxicated adult male with paranoid schizophrenia" who "ran away from home after getting into an argument."

Gonterman left his League City home around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. He was found around 10:30 a.m. Monday, but it took rescuers several hours to remove him from the manhole, which was located in a wooded area about half a mile from his home.

Frank Black, who led a team of volunteer rescuers from Texas Equusearch, a nonprofit group that searches for missing people all across the nation, told ABC News that Gonterman's mother contacted his organization on Sunday night. They started searching around 9:30 a.m. Monday.

"We got a call from the family of the man...and they told us that he had some problems with his girlfriend and he ran out the house and [was] possibly suicidal," Black said.

While League City police were reaching out to Gonterman's associates and checking his place of business, about 18 searchers from Texas Equusearch gathered with maps and ATVs to begin searching the wooded area near Gonterman's home.

About 45 minutes into the operation, searcher Robert Powell called Black with news.

"He said 'I found him.' I said 'dead or alive?'" Black recalled. "He said, 'he's alive but in bad shape.'"

The missing man was lying in the bottom of a manhole that was about 30 feet deep and about 30 inches wide. Gonterman was curled up on the ground and didn't appear to be moving.

The Houston Fire Department was called, and it took them several hours to remove Gonterman from the manhole. During that time, the man was speaking "incoherently," Black said.

He was transported to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center in Houston. A hospital spokesman last night said Gonterman was in good condition.

Rescuers believe Gonterman may have fallen down the hole as he walked across the wooded field in the dark. The manhole had no cover, Black said.

One person said Gonterman had been bitten by snakes "at least 5 times," apparently by venomous cottonmouth water moccasins, Black added.  

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