Image: Jacob Allen
Jacob Allen, an 18-year-old teen, has been missing since Sunday.
updated 10/16/2007 8:05:39 PM ET 2007-10-17T00:05:39

Shouting promises of candy and other food, search crews combed rugged terrain Tuesday in hope of luring out an 18-year-old autistic hiker who wandered away from his parents.

More than 300 volunteers and trained rescuers were looking for Jacob Allen, who has been missing since Sunday afternoon.

Searchers were focusing on a 10-square-mile area of often steep and brush-covered terrain in a section of wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest. They hollered for Allen, who is essentially nonverbal, then paused, hoping to hear a rustle of leaves signaling his approach.

There is no way of telling how Allen — who has the mental capacity of a 3- or 4-year-old — might react in this situation, said Chris Stadelman, the search group’s spokesman.

“Obviously this is something none of us has ever been through and certainly Jacob hasn’t either,” he said.

Allen’s parents, Jim and Karen Allen of Morgantown, went out several times with rescue crews Tuesday but stayed only for brief periods so they could be ready to go to their son when needed, Stadelman said.

The couple brought their son’s pillowcase for rescue dogs to sniff, hoping the animals could pick up his scent. Helicopters were also being used in the search.

Cold conditions
Temperatures in the area where Allen is believed to be have dipped to 38 degrees, but hypothermia shouldn’t set in as long as Allen stays dry, Stadelman said. It hadn’t rained, but there was a slight chance of showers over the next couple of days.

Allen was wearing hiking boots, a long-sleeved T-shirt, a wind jacket and wind pants when he disappeared. His hat was found Monday, near the area where he was last seen. Allen had no food or water with him, but Stadelman said there are natural water sources in the search area.

Stadelman said the search effort would probably be scaled back somewhat after dark Tuesday, but expected it to continue all night.

Allen wandered ahead while hiking with his parents and didn’t answer when they called his name, Stadelman said.

While Allen is described as severely autistic by his mother, Stadelman said, he is in good physical shape and likes to hike.

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