Search teams combed mountain terrain Sunday for a 12-year-old Boy Scout who disappeared during an outing.
About 10 Scouts and the adult leaders of Troop 230, from Greensboro, noticed that Michael Auberry was missing between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday in Stone Mountain State Park, officials said.
The troop had gone on a hike earlier Saturday, and the boy and an adult stayed behind, said David Bauer, a ranger with the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was not immediately clear why they stayed behind.
After the troop returned and ate lunch with Michael and the adult, the troop noticed the boy was missing from camp. Searchers found part of his mess kit less than a mile away late Saturday, Bauer said.
“At this point we’re looking at every possibility,” Bauer said. “The most probable thing is that he walked away, went out in the woods and went to investigate.”
Michael’s parents joined the search.
“We’re really hopeful,” his father, Kent Auberry, told the Winston-Salem Journal.
Auberry cried while describing a spot searchers had found where it appeared someone had sat on a rock and drawn in the dirt with a stick.
He said his son has been a Scout for about a year and has a first-class rank.
Searchers were moving off the trail and into rugged terrain Sunday afternoon and were expected to suspend the search when night fell because of the risks involved, Bauer said.
The boy was wearing pants, a shirt and a coat. The Sunday afternoon temperature at Mount Airy, about 25 miles northeast of Traphill in northwest North Carolina, was in the low 40s, the National Weather Service said.
Stone Mountain State Park covers nearly 13,750 acres.
Search crews included volunteer firefighters, National Park Service staff and rescue squads from the state park system and Alleghany and Wilkes counties. A Highway Patrol helicopter equipped with an infrared sensor that can detect body heat was sent to assist the search.