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Search for missing teen in Daggett County turns up footprint

Published August 4, 2013 8:56 am

Runaway • The boy fled troubled-youth outdoors program without shoes, coat.
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A third day of searching the mountains surrounding Daggett County's Spirit Lake for a teen who walked away from an outdoors program for troubled youth turned up a lone footprint — but no further sign as of Saturday evening.

The search of Utah forest lands was set to continue Sunday, but authorities issued a statement late Saturday indicating 14-year-old Andre Duran may be in nearby Wyoming.

According to Elizabeth Sollis of the Utah Department of Human Services, authorities believe Duran may be in the neighboring state given how long he has been gone. The possibility was floated Saturday afternoon in a media release from the department, which oversees youth programs such as the one Duran was in at the time of his disappearance. Officials want authorities and the public in Wyoming to be aware and to keep an eye out for the boy, who is still considered a runaway but whose safety is a concern.

Duran, of Taylorsville, was last seen at a campsite near Spirit Lake, about 15 miles southwest of Manila, at about 9 a.m. Thursday.

"He is considered to be endangered due to the fact that he has no shoes, no coat or protection from the elements," according to Daggett County Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen, who confirmed that staff members of the youth program, Journey Impact Ranch, notified authorities on Thursday that the boy was missing.

KUTV News reported Saturday that officials combing an eight-mile radius around the campsite found a footprint that may be Duran's. The teens at the camp were all required to surrender their shoes as a way to discourage runaways. The news station reported that dogs are trying to pick up a scent near the barefoot print in hope of picking up a trail.

In addition to search-and-rescue crews from Daggett and Uintah counties, the effort to find the teen includes horseback riders and a helicopter, and the Garrett Bardsley Foundation is organizing volunteer searchers.

Twelve-year-old Garrett Bardsley disappeared in 2004 during a Boy Scout outing in the Uinta Mountains. According to the Foundation's website, they are seeking volunteers with horses and mules, as well as those who can search on foot.

Duran is a 5-foot-6, 130-pound Cacausian with hazel eyes and light brown hair. He was last seen wearing long pants, T-shirt and socks.

He reportedly had been in the youth program for about three weeks.

According to the Journey organization's website, the Impact Ranch is a "moderate risk" program for boys ages 13 to 18. Residents stay on average four to six months, taking on-site classes and participating in work projects on the 12-acre, Mona-area ranch itself and for the U.S. Forest Service. Behavioral therapy sessions, regular hikes and backpacking trips also are part of the program.

kbennion@sltrib.com