Valedictorian Vanishes on Ecuador Hike With Family

August Reiger was just a few minutes ahead of parents on hike

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 20, 2013 12:21 PM CDT

(Newser) – Just last month, August Reiger graduated as a valedictorian from his Oklahoma advanced studies high school. On Sunday, the 18-year-old National Merit Scholar was hiking in Ecuador during a family vacation with his parents and younger brother when he disappeared. He had gone on ahead by himself, and was not at the mountaintop when his family arrived—nor at their hotel when they got back, the Oklahoman reports. "Whatever happened to him was in the space of five or 10 minutes. We were right behind him," his father says. "He couldn't have gotten lost. The whole of the trail is visible from the hotel. You can see the way down. It's a tourist area, and it's not isolated at all. If he was hurt on the trail, somebody would have seen him."

Police, firefighters, volunteers, and even the military have been searching for the teen; his father says authorities believe he either fell off a ledge or was kidnapped. But Banos, where the family was vacationing, is considered safe and has never seen a kidnapping, his father says, and the family has not received a ransom call. The family has hired an American who lives in Ecuador as a translator (August, his dad notes, speaks Spanish) and his father tells KOKH-TV he'll remain in the country until the teen is found. Says one of August's friends, "He has got a full ride scholarship to OU; he's got a full life waiting for him in OKC."

  (Shutterstock)
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