Hog hunters spot runaway
by Kenda Nelson
Oct 06, 2012 | 2536 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUSTWELL — A futile ground and air search for a Tivoli man ended last Thursday just after noon when hog hunters found Gabriel Whittaker, 37, in the “middle of nowhere,” they reported.

He was complaining of pain in both hips, mosquito bites and several cuts.

The hunters spotted Whittaker on Hartman Road near the Old Austwell Road, according to Sheriff Robert Bolcik.

“He was very incoherent, dehydrated and unable to remember where he was and his kidneys were not functioning properly,” Bolcik said.

The sheriff said he was covered in numerous mosquito and ant bites.

“We suspect from what we learned during the investigation that he had been using drugs before he left the house,” Bolcik said. “He was hiding in the brush and probably either fell asleep or became unconscious.”

Whittaker was taken to the emergency room at Refugio Memorial Hospital and later transferred to Citizens Memorial in Victoria.

He was returned to Refugio Friday and put in jail. Whittaker is charged with family violence, with bail set at $5,000. The offense is a class B misdemeanor.

The sheriff said Whittaker has active warrants for violation of probation in Calhoun County.

The incident began last week when Whittaker knocked out all the windows in his home in Tivoli, turned over the refrigerator and stove, broke mirrors and tore down a ceiling fan, leaving his home in shambles, according to sheriff’s investigator Gary Wright.

He allegedly threatened his wife with a gun before driving toward Austwell. Whittaker allegedly placed a pipe under the accelerator and jumped out of the vehicle as it ran into a ravine where it exploded and caught fire, according to the sheriff.

DPS helicopters were called in to search the area but was unable to find the fugitive. On Wednesday, the sheriff said his office began getting calls that Whittaker may be deceased. Bolcik called for the helicopters again.

“They searched for three hours but never located him,” Bolcik said. “About 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning, the hog hunters found him.”

The sheriff said more charges are unlikely since everything he allegedly tore up belonged to him.
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