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Pa. boy, 17, flees youth boot camp

July 08, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

SOUTH MOUNTAIN, Pa. - A 17-year-old boy with just two weeks to go in the Abraxas Leadership Development Program escaped over the weekend from the boot camp for troubled youth, police said.

The boy was on a camping trip with his platoon at Michaux State Forest in Greene Township when he fled, police said.

Pennsylvania State Police and officials from Abraxas believe the white male, dressed in a white T-shirt, camouflage fatigues and black boots, drove off in a pickup truck sometime Saturday night.

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The teenager was discovered missing by the staff during the wakeup call at 8 a.m. Sunday, when they found his sleeping bag stuffed with leaves and other materials to make it appear that he was inside it, said Dr. Corby Myers, executive director of Abraxas.

Police are searching for the boy near his hometown in Coudersport, Pa. The boy's girlfriend also lives in the Potter County community, Myers said.

But the boy could be anywhere, Myers said, adding that he has a history of car theft and once stole a car and drove it to Florida, where he lived for three months.

The escape occurred during the last phase of the 33-member platoon's five-week wilderness activity, which includes camping, hiking, and rock climbing.

The platoon was on a three-day solo outing in which it was unaccompanied by Abraxas staff except for routine spot checks and medical runs, Myers said.

The teenager apparently waited until after staff members did night checks Saturday before escaping, Myers said.

The teen's disappearance is the first successful escape from Abraxas since it opened three years ago, Myers said.

Nearly 800 second- and third-offender youth have been sent to the 15-week military-style program by the courts, Myers said.

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