Body of Central Texas sheriff's deputy swept away in floodwaters found in Lake Austin

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Heavy rain continued hitting Houston and Southeast Texas Friday, with flash flood watches issued through the evening. (Sept. 19)

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AUSTIN, Texas — Divers found the body of a missing Central Texas sheriff's deputy Friday, a day after her patrol car was found swamped by floodwaters minutes after she radioed for help while checking flooded low-water crossings.

Senior Deputy Jessica Hollis was found dead Friday afternoon in Lake Austin, an emotional Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton announced Friday afternoon. Hamilton said he had been determined to "bring her home."

Efforts to locate the deputy had been suspended before nightfall Thursday because of the storms, which were remnants of Hurricane Odile.

The National Weather Service forecasts more heavy rain through Saturday over much of West Texas, with flash flood watches issued through Friday night. Rain fell Friday in Southeast Texas and elsewhere in the state, with high waters clogging roadways and impeding traffic in metro areas such as Austin and Houston.

Hollis, 35, a seven-year veteran of the department, was checking low-water crossings during storms. She radioed shortly before 2 a.m. CDT Thursday to say her patrol car was being washed away in an Austin-area subdivision, Travis County sheriff's spokesman Roger Wade said.

Hollis' empty car was found a short time later, but she could not be located.

"We believe she was swept into the low-water crossing by water going down the street," Wade said.

Earlier this week, rainfall pelted parts of the state. In Plainview, about 45 miles north of Lubbock, 4½ inches of rain was reported over 24 hours ending at 2 p.m. CDT Thursday.

"We are getting moisture from Odile," said Cory Van Pelt, a National Weather Service forecaster in New Braunfels. "We also got a lot of Gulf of Mexico moisture that came in, a combination of the two."

The Austin area received 5 to 7 inches of rain early Thursday, Van Pelt said. About 40 miles north of Austin, near Jarrell, a weather service observer measured almost 1½ inches of rain within 30 minutes.

Austin-Travis County EMS handled three swift-water rescues in the region Thursday morning, Benavides said. No injuries were reported in those rescues.

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