Search suspended for 20-year-old Crosby firefighter thrown from Jeep into water over Galveston Causeway Sunday

HOUSTON – The U.S. Coast Guard suspended their search for a 20-year-old Crosby Fire Department firefighter on Monday night.

"We have suspended the search pending any additional information,” wrote Captain Jason Smith, sector Houston-Galveston commanding officer. "Suspending a search is never an easy decision to make and our heartfelt thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Around 8 p.m. on Sunday, Kent Zavala and his dog were ejected from a Jeep during a three-vehicle collision on Galveston’s I-45 causeway. Both Zavala and the dog were thrown off the causeway, into the waters of Galveston Bay below.

Stori Zook, a friend of Zavala, is holding out hope that he will be found alive.

“It just blows our minds. Life is so short, you never know what’s going to happen," Zook said. “I just hope they find him and that he’s OK.”

Tim Miller, with Texas EquuSearch, is aiding in the rescue and recovery effort. Miller said Zavala’s dog has been found alive. He said he will continue searching for Zavala throughout Monday night.

“Where he went in, down there, it appears as though, according to a sonar, there’s a lot of debris from the old bridge, it’s right by the ship channel, the ships go through there,” Miller said.

According to Miller, if need be, Texas EquuSearch will bring in a helicopter on Tuesday to search from above.

“The worst part is what the family is going through right now … not knowing,” Miller said. “The sooner we can get him recovered, the best for everybody.”

A lover of country western dancing and a former bull rider, Zavala recently joined the ranks of the Crosby Volunteer Fire Department.

According to Chief Ryan Allen, Zavala has served as a recruit firefighter since May 2019.

If you have any information about Zavala’s whereabouts, you’re asked to call the Galveston Police Department at (409) 765-3702 or Texas EquuSearch at (281) 309-9500.