GRANTS PASS — Sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday followed up on reported sightings around the Northwest of an Oklahoma teenager whose truck was found on a remote volcanic mountain after he set out to test himself against the southeast Oregon wilderness.
But another search of the mountain will have to wait a month or so until the snow melts.
Dustin Self, 19, left his family home outside Oklahoma City to explore the wild and check out a pair of Oregon churches that use a hallucinogenic tea as a sacrament. His pickup truck was found earlier this month on a dirt track on Steens Mountain, where it had gotten stuck about 2 1/2 miles in from a county road.
Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup said he figures Self was more likely to head downhill off the mountain than to climb a steep grade to go farther into the backcountry. And he could well have hitched a ride from the paved county road along the east side of the mountain, the sheriff said.
“The only thing concerning to me is he hasn’t called his parents,” Glerup said. “It sounds like he usually did that in a timely fashion. I don’t know if he had issues with his cellphone. We haven’t had any activity on it.”
Glerup said once the snow melts, which could take two weeks to a month, searchers will return to the area where Self left his truck.
Self’s mother, Tammy, said Tuesday the family had heard nothing new, but she declined to comment further about the search for her son. She and her husband were driving home with their son’s pickup truck to Piedmont, Okla., an Oklahoma City suburb.
Glerup said sightings have come in from Grants Pass, Coos Bay and Lakeview in Oregon, and from Yakima in Washington state. Deputies are following up with calls to the people who think they saw Dustin Self, as well as local police. They are not contacting a person who called from Maine saying they had seen him. Glerup said he did not think it was likely Self would have gone that far.
A rancher found Self’s two-wheel-drive pickup April 15.
Self had left home about a month earlier. He told his parents he wanted to test himself against the wilderness, like in the movie “Into The Wild,” and check out two Oregon churches that practice a South American religion that uses a hallucinogenic tea as a sacrament. A founder of the Ashland branch said neither of them had been in contact with Self.
Authorities have said that on his last call to his father and girlfriend, Self was hallucinating, perhaps from sleep deprivation or the attention deficit disorder medication he had been taking to stay awake while driving.