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American teen found after going missing on hike

Date Posted: 2012-08-03

Heavy rains impeded the search for a 17-year-old American who disappeared during an outing on the Fukugawa River at the base of a waterfall in the Aha district of Kunigami Village, but he was found less than 24 hours later when he walked into a public facility and asked for help.

Nago Police say the boy is the son of an American serviceman. The emergency call to Nago fire authorities came at 7 p.m. Monday, saying the boy was missing after last being seen near the bottom of the Tanagah-Kumui waterfall. The missing person report came from a man with the group, reporting that he and four American boys ages 12~17 had been enjoying the river.

The five had entered the river from near Fukugawa Dam, lined up knee-deep in the river and moved south toward Tanagah-Kumui, walking in the water. Police say the lost boy had indicated he was afraid of water, so he walked on the riverside behind the others. He was following the four when he was noticed missing.

More than 70 members of the Kunigami Village firefighting headquarters, members of a local fire brigade and Nago Police mobilized for the search, using police dogs. Volunteers from the U.S. military also joined the search. The search and rescue team say heavy rain fell at the search venue, but the searchers continued in the slippery forest. “We tried to go to Tanagah-Kumui from the upper part of the river, but the road is to steep,” said one official. “There was also danger of a possible secondary disaster,” indicating search teams are being extremely careful.

The high school student was found at the Aha district in Kunigami. After becoming separated from his fellow students, he began walking, and ultimately stumbled upon civilization and asked for help. He told rescue workers he’d stayed on a paved road next to the river overnight, then after sunrise Tuesday began walking away.

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