Image: Jacob Allen
Jacob Allen, an 18-year-old teen, has been missing since Sunday.
updated 10/17/2007 9:59:34 PM ET 2007-10-18T01:59:34

A severely autistic hiker who has been missing since Sunday is comfortable around people and would not be expected to shy away from rescuers as they call for him, a spokesman for the search effort said Wednesday.

More than 300 people, volunteers as well as trained professionals, trudged through the rugged terrain of the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, shouting for 18-year-old Jacob Allen, or “Jake,” to come to them to get ice cream, candy bars and other food.

“He has no fear of strangers,” search spokesman Chris Stadelman said.

The family and the rescuers remain confident Allen will be found soon, and there are no plans to scale back the rescue effort, Stadelman said.

His sister earlier told CNN the family worries that Jacob, who uses pictures to communicate with his family, isn’t able to respond when called to.

“That is our biggest concern, that someone calls for him and he cannot say, ‘I’m here,’ you know, ‘Help me,”’ said Brittany Allen.

Jacob wandered away from his parents Sunday afternoon while hiking on the Boar’s Nest Trail in the Monongahela National Forest.

He had no food or water with him, but Stadelman said there are natural water sources in the search area, which consists of about 10 square miles of often steep and brush-covered terrain.

Though overnight temperatures have dropped to as low as 38 degrees since Jacob got lost, hypothermia is not a concern as long as he stays dry, Stadelman said. Some parts of the region got rain Tuesday night, but the search area remained dry, Stadelman said.

He was wearing hiking boots, a long-sleeved T-shirt, a wind jacket and wind pants.

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