Oregon authorities, along with search-and-rescue crews, have been looking for an Oklahoma teenager who is believed to be in trouble in a remote area of southeastern Oregon.
Dustin Self, 19, decided that he wanted to live off the land after watching the movie Into the Wild. A dedicated vegetarian, Self reportedly wanted to see if he could live in a wilderness area subsisting only on wild foods, other than meat. The teen had also mentioned that he wanted to investigate some “churches” that practice a South American religion that uses a hallucinogenic tea as part of their religious practices, one of these groups being in Oregon.
The Harney County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon began to search for Self on Tuesday, after the teen’s truck was found stuck in a ditch on a backcountry track. Searchers on ATVs found no sign of Self, and were forced to delay their search with heavy snow and high winds approaching, according to media reports.
Authorities are waiting for the weather to clear, so they can search by aircraft as well as on the ground.
“We did everything we could to try to talk him out of it,” said his mother, Tammy Self. “He was leaving, no matter what. He thought he was going to eat berries,” she said. “We tried to tell him, berries don’t grow in wintertime.”
“He is not a survivalist,” said his father, Victor Self, a manager at a box plant in Oklahoma City. “He is a very urban child. We’re worried sick. I just hope he’s alive.”
His parents last heard from Self on March 15, when he called from northern Nevada. His father called the Harney County Sheriff’s Office on March 17, which initiated a search of local roadways. A missing person report was filed with the local police. When Self’s truck was found this past Monday, the teen’s backpack and camping gear were gone, but the truck keys, a computer, his GPS, and some of his food had been left behind.
Of course we are all hoping for the boy’s safe return, and hopefully wiser for the wear. But I cannot help but think about another copycat who got into trouble in 2011. A 68-year-old man from North Carolina decided to hike alone into Utah’s Little Blue John Canyon by himself (Link to 9/28/2011 Utah survivor story), after watching the movie 127 Hours. The man barely survived an injury he received there, similar to that of the protagonist in the film. You would think that people would pick up on the theme from these movies–that bad things happen when venture into rugged, inhospitable places by yourself. But I guess a lot of people don’t think about the harshness that wild places actually contain.
Or they just don’t think at all.
What’s your take on stories like these? And by all means, call it like you see it.