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The cars in the bayous

Boy, does this sound like a great opening to a crime novel.

Houston’s bayous, dotted by marshy banks and filled with bass and catfish, weave through the city, providing an appealing landscape for joggers and cyclists. But beneath the murky, brown waters is something not as pleasant: a makeshift dumping ground of cars, trucks and vans.

Tim Miller, director of Texas Equusearch, said his volunteer crews have evidence that 127 vehicles are submerged in the bayous. Miller said there are potential environmental and safety hazards of having cars corroding the city’s waterways.

“Houston is known as the Bayou City. I know millions of dollars are spent on the banks of the bayous to make it beautiful,” said Miller, who founded the nonprofit search and rescue organization in 2000. “But we’ve got a big problem with what’s underneath the water.”

Texas Equusearch crews found the vehicles while assisting the Houston Police Department with a search for 82-year-old Lillian High in October 2011. Her body was found inside a rented Dodge Avenger that had plunged into the pond a few miles from her Houston home.

During that search Miller said the organization’s sonar equipment discovered vehicles in Sims, Braes and Buffalo bayous.

In recent months, Miller said many bodies have been discovered in vehicles in Texas and around the country, compelling him to go public with the information. He cited two cases from April, one in which police in South Dakota found the bodies of two teens who disappeared 42 years ago. Later that month, police found skeletal remains inside a truck recovered from a North Texas lake of a woman missing for 35 years.

“Families would call me whose loved ones were still missing, and they’d see these kinds of stories and ask me if there is any chance that their (family members) could be under there, since their loved ones hadn’t been found,” he said. “It was just like, you know what, we’ve got to do something, we just have to.”

HPD says the know all about the cars and they dispute the claim that there could be bodies in one or more of them. I have no opinion about that, but I do think from an environmental point of view that we ought to do what we can to get these cars out of there. They can’t be doing any good down there. Let’s figure out how much it might cost, then see if we can come up with an action plan. Swamplot has more.

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  1. Stephen says:

    Reminds me of the time when I was playing along the banks of the bayou, in the early 1990’s. My friend and I noticed something strange in the mud, and we started to uncover what was indeed a buried car. We kept digging until an old lady saw us and told us to stop, so we don’t cause erosion. I’ve always imagined facetiously that this lady was indeed a murderess, and she stopped us meddling kids just in time.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    I’d bet money the vast majority of those cars were stolen, then dumped. It would make sense to pull them out, for the environment and everything, but really, I’d rather see the money for that project used to fill a few potholes.

    Perhaps the city could get a reality TV show to foot the bill for dragging the cars from the abyss-on-the-bayou….maybe even get Geraldo to open the car doors to see if there are bodies or treasure in them.

  3. Steven Houston says:

    Sorry Bill, according to those who ran the vin numbers and/or plates, the majority were NOT stolen. Some were reported stolen months after they were found in the bayou but that is to be expected.