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Missing Utah teen found in tattered socks after 3 days of searching

Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 12:23 a.m. MDT

Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Daggett County Sherriff Department) Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Daggett County Sherriff Department)

ASHLEY NATIONAL FOREST — The search for a 14-year-old boy who ran away from a camp for troubled youth ended after three days Sunday night when Andre Duran was found safe.

The shoeless boy in visibly tattered socks was located about 8 p.m. by two search and rescue workers in the Hickerson Park area of the Spirit Lake drainage of the Ashley National Forest.

"He appeared to be in good health," said Daggett County Sheriff's Capt. Chris Collett.

Woody Bair was one of the volunteers who found Andre under a lean-to with a tarp about five miles away from the campsite where he went missing. Andre told Bair he had been in the lean-to for about an hour.

When asked if he resisted, Bair chuckled.

“He was ready for some drinks,” he said.

Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News) Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News)

Andre told Bair he had walked in circles and tried signaling for help.

Daggett County Sherriff Jerry Jorgensen said Andre tried to blow a whistle to flag down helicopters. He said he was found uninjured, healthy and ready to be found. Andre hadn't eaten since he left, but drank some water from a creek.

Andre was transported by horseback by rescuers. After undergoing medical evaluations, the teen was to be taken to a juvenile justice services facility, said Utah Department of Human Services spokeswoman Elizabeth Sollis.

"I would imagine he's pretty shook up after everything," Sollis said.

An investigation into why he ran away is already underway, but the priority Sunday was Andre's health and safety, she said. A judge will determine what will happen next with him.

Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News) Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News)

"He might be facing additional charges because he left the program," Sollis said.

Volunteers from Journey Impact Ranch, the Daggett County Sheriff's Office, the Utah Department of Public Safety, search and rescue workers and other volunteers were combing the area in groups Sunday when Andre was found.

"We're extremely appreciative of anyone who helped with the search," she said.

Andre was enrolled in a camp for troubled youth from Mona when he was reported missing around 10 a.m. Thursday. Andre was not wearing shoes because the shoes of the campers were taken away at night to try and prevent them from running away.

On Saturday, searchers and dogs were following a trail of bare footprints discovered near Spirit Lake. On Sunday more than 120 searchers from at least five Utah counties combed the mountains for Andre in the Spirit Lake area.

Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News) Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News)

“There’s some kid who has parents and family that’s lost and for whatever reason he’s lost, it doesn’t matter. But we need to help because if we don’t, who will?” volunteer searcher Leo Lines said earlier Sunday.

Searchers got a lead Sunday evening when they found a white T-shirt in the Sheep Creek area near state Route 44 that they thought might belong to Andre. Investigators later learned that it wasn't his. Authorities were also looking into a possible sighting of the teen on state Route 44 Sunday evening. Utah officials had notified authorities in Wyoming about the teenager possibly being in that state.

The ranch is a "moderate risk behavioral program" for 13- to 18-year-old boys, according to its website. The program typically lasts four to six months and involves work at the ranch in Mona or service projects in the area.

Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News) Footprints discovered Saturday by searchers are believed to belong to a 14-year-old boy who authorities say ran away Thursday from a camp for troubled youths. (Sam Penrod, Deseret News)

Contributing: Devon Dolan, Dennis Romboy

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company