Officials Search Texas Bay for Missing Soldier

Searchers continued combing a South Texas bay Sunday for a soldier who authorities believe drove his car off the end of a pier the day after Christmas.

Pfc. Jamie Wagner Sengvanhpheng, 21, was home on leave from Fort Bragg, N.C. and visiting family in Rockport when he disappeared after hanging out with friends at a bar late Christmas night.

His 2004 Acura was found submerged in Copano Bay Friday, but Sengvanhpheng was not inside.

A body had not been recovered so the search continued, a dispatcher with the Aransas County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

Older brother James Sengvanhpheng said there were no developments and declined to say more while his brother remained missing.

Authorities first got the call about someone driving on the pier around 1:50 a.m. Friday. At daybreak they found the car in the bay and saw it was registered to Sengvanhpheng. Investigators do not believe anyone else was in the car when it entered the bay, which is about 30 miles north of Corpus Christi.

Jamie Sengvanhpheng's girlfriend, Morgan Hedgcoth, said late Saturday that things seemed normal when she saw him in the early hours of Christmas Day.

Hedgcoth said Sengvanhpheng had recently talked expectantly about getting a scholarship to start college, though he had never complained to her about his time in the Army. Family members told her divers found the driver's side window down in the car, giving her hope that he may have escaped, Hedgcoth said.

"I don't know why he would do this when so many good things were coming his way," she said.

Sengvanhpheng had planned to stay home until mid-January, Hedgcoth said. The soldier had just transferred from the 20th Engineer Brigade to the Warrior Transition Battalion, said Sgt. Jessica Fimbres, a post spokeswoman. The battalion is usually for soldiers preparing to leave the military for medical or other reasons, though sometimes it's a holding area while waiting for the Army Medical Board to decide if they can stay in, Fimbres said. She didn't know details about Sengvanhpheng's particular situation.

No additional information was available, Fimbres said Sunday.

Jonathan Nguyen, a friend of Sengvanhpheng's, wrote in an e-mail late Saturday, "he's a great guy, a very great friend and this didn't need to happen."