Search on for soldier missing for 4th day at Fort Hood

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) _ Soldiers searched the sprawling Fort Hood Army base in 90-degree heat for a 25-year-old sergeant who got lost during a navigational training exercise his supervisors said he was determined to finish.

At dawn Tuesday, there was still no word on the missing man, said Col. Diane Battaglia, III Corps spokeswoman at Fort Hood.

Army and civilian teams headed out for a fourth day into the juniper-covered hills of Fort Hood's training range looking for any trace of Sgt. Lawrence G. Sprader. Two Black Hawk helicopters have scanned the range day and night since late Friday, when Sprader disappeared.

The soldier was two hours overdue from a navigation training drill and apparently did not follow a safety siren used by nine others who were also lost to return to base camp. Battaglia said that when Sprader last spoke to commanders by cell phone he did not indicate that he was sick or distressed, only that he wanted to finish the exercise.

His phone battery has since died and searchers worry he may have succumbed to the heat, dehydration or may be injured.

The searchers, many of whom were Sprader's classmates in a two-week non-commissioned officer training course, walked roughly 9,500 acres, looking for any sign of him. The training range covers 15,000 acres of trees and high grass.

"There's a possibility, especially with the heat index, that he probably was seeking shade, which is obviously compounding the search" difficulty, Battaglia said.

Sprader, of Prince George, Va., had two canteens and a water backpack, and because of recent rain, there is surface water scattered on the range, Battaglia said. Health officials told searchers an individual like Sprader could probably survive four days without water.

Battaglia said officials have no reason to believe Sprader intentionally disappeared. Other soldiers saw him on the course during the exercise, and fellow students and commanders said he was a model soldier.