Dive Team recovers body in Neches River believed to be missing teen Conner Curtice

Published 6:18 am Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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At approximately 6 p.m. Tuesday, a Texas Game Warden Dive Team recovered a body in the Neches River believed to be that of missing teen Conner Curtice.

Searchers with the Texas Game Wardens, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division, the Port Neches Fire Department, the Beaumont Fire Department and the United States Coast Guard conducted an extensive search using sonar technology to locate the body.

Judge Ben Collins has ordered an autopsy.

The family has been notified.

The Texas Game Wardens are leading the investigation.

“We appreciate all of the volunteers who assisted yesterday evening and today,” a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office release stated Tuesday night.

The search

Search teams were continuing their efforts to find 14-year-old Conner Curtice who fell overboard a boat Monday afternoon.

The search resumed Tuesday morning and was focused on one area in the Neches River.

The Groves teen’s aunt, Cynthia Hernandez Hunter, said Curtice grew up hunting and fishing with her family and was an avid fisherman.

Hunter was among a group of people at Port Neches Riverfront Park Tuesday morning awaiting word on Curtice.

Hunter said her nephew turned 14 last week.

“Our family’s hearts are broken” Hunter said while seated in a utility terrain vehicle near the water Tuesday. “One good thing about our family is how close were are as a family. We support each other and set out to get things done.”

Curtice and an 18-year-old male were boating at 3:15 p.m. Monday in the Neches River near Deck Hand Alley when both teens fell overboard.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Ryan Hall said it appears some water may have gotten in the boat and they were either putting the plug back in or getting water out while holding on near the motor and both fell overboard. The younger teen was seen floating as if injured, but the 18-year-old was unable to reach him and the teen went under, authorities said.

TP&W dispatched boats with side scan capabilities, and Jefferson County Marine Unit and Port Neches Fire Department also responded. A TP&D boat spotted an image in the river and contacted the Beaumont Fire Department dive team.

Due to safety concerns, the search was suspended until first light Tuesday morning, according to information from the Sheriff’s Office.

The search resumed Tuesday morning.

Not all at the riverfront were family. Carol Sigona and a friend stood by watching and waiting on Tuesday.

“We just came out. We don’t know the family, we’re just concerned about the little boy,” Sigona said.

Multiple boats were seen launching from the boat ramps Tuesday and the parking lot was filled with boat trailers and vehicles but it is not known how many were associated with the search.

— Written by Mary Meaux