Crews search for autistic hiker in W.Va. |

Crews search for autistic hiker in W.Va.

ELKINS, W.Va. ” More than 50 emergency responders and volunteers searched Monday for an autistic hiker who strayed from his parents in the Dolly Sods Wilderness area.

Jacob Allen, 18, of Morgantown, was hiking with his parents, Jim and Karen Allen, on Sunday afternoon when he got ahead of them and didn’t answer when they called out his name, said Chris Stadelman, public information officer at the command post.

The family declined to speak with the media, but thanked searchers for their efforts and asked for the public’s prayers, Stadelman said.

While Allen is described by his mother as severely autistic, he is in good physical shape and likes to hike, Stadelman said. He was not carrying food or water.

The family visits Dolly Sods, located within the Monongahela National Forest, a couple times a year, he said.

Temperatures dropped to as low as 38 degrees overnight, said Stadelman, but rose steadily on Monday, which was clear and sunny.

Residents of several counties were searching along with two search dogs and a crew in a National Guard helicopter.

The primary search area was about 4 square miles of terrain that included thick brush and steep inclines.

Officials on Monday asked for more volunteers to join in the search, requesting that they not call, but show up at The Canaan Valley State Park Nature Center.

“We only have one land line for all the calls that are coming in,” Stadelman said.

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