Kayaking at sea turned tragic for one former US Army Ranger who has ties to South Dakota. Texas native, Wrangler Leesman, 29, is still missing after his kayak capsized off the coast of Belize over a week ago. The last 8 days have been tough for Leesman's aunt, Anita Baca, who has lived in Highmore her entire life. It all began with a late night phone call from her sister.
"She told me, Anita, Wrangler is missing. I was like what? Then she explained. It just dropped my heart," Baca said.
Leesman has been missing since April 29th. He was kayaking with a friend who survived the violent waves. "The waters were rough, but they went anyway. They did find Wrangler's cap. They found his shorts, that were shredded," Baca said.
After today the Belize Coast Guard is stopping the search for Wrangler. The family is relying on private donations to keep the search going. They have already raised over $24,000. Leesman has served 5 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, so family members remain hopeful his survival skills have kept him alive.
"Is he lost in that jungle? With his survival rate and everything, it's hard to say he's not coming back," Baca said.
Wrangler has several family members in South Dakota, including a 91 year old grandmother who also lives in Highmore.