Search for missing father near Denton Creek now a recovery effort

Searchers returned to Denton Creek Wednesday to look for a missing father. But after more than 36 hours, they’ve scaled back and changed the scope, rationalizing that he drowned.

Matthew Meinert and his 2-year-old son, Oliver, didn’t come home after a fishing trip Monday afternoon. Their abandoned boat was found later that night on the bank of the creek near Lake Grapevine.

The little boy was found safe when searchers returned to the boat Tuesday morning. Despite spending the night alone in the elements, he is okay and was reunited with his mother.

Investigators still don’t know what happened to Meinert, who has been described as an avid fisherman. His wife received a picture of the two of them smiling around 6:30 p.m. Local fishermen also remember seeing them launch their boat but said their truck was still in the same spot the next morning.

Based on where the boat was found and things found in the water, investigators believe there was some sort of accident. They also said Oliver was never submerged in the water and there were still two life jackets inside the boat.

The extensive ground and air search have not resulted in any clues, so the working theory is that Meinert drowned.

“Since we haven’t been able to find any sign in the woods, at this point we have no reason to believe he’s anywhere but within the creek. And with that amount of time that has lapsed that’s kind of what’s led us to that transition,” said Brandon Barth with the Flower Mound Fire Department.

Barth said the water in the creek is not that deep and fortunately the current is not that strong right now. But there is quite a bit of debris.

The search now includes a team of about 20 people on foot and in boats, compared to 40 or more earlier in the week. The team is also using drones.