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NCSO: Search for Joey Peterson still a priority

Joseph Peterson 16 was reported missing on Sunday Nov 10 2019 (Submitted)

CASPER, Wyo. —  The search for a teenager who went missing in November continues as a priority for the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, according to a statement from department officials.

Joseph “Joey” Peterson, 16, who was described by officials as autistic, left his home Sunday, November 11, 2019 wearing a hooded sweatshirt and pajama bottoms and without means of communication. Rescuers started searching the rural area around Goose Creek and Hat Six Road in southeastern Natrona County shortly after. Cold winter weather would come in the days that followed.

“The search for Joey Peterson has remained a priority for Natrona County Sheriff’s Office and Natrona County Search and Rescue,” said NCSO Sergeant Taylor Courtney in a statement to Oil City Thursday, March 6, 2020. “Since the pause of physical search efforts, we have been actively planning the resumption of operations, focusing on areas of high interest based on information gathered before weather conditions stopped our physical search progress.”

In the days following Joey’s disappearance, search crews used K-9 teams, human tracking experts with Wyoming State Trackers, Natrona county Search and Rescue personnel, horseback teams, drones from Drone Kings, and community volunteers.

The search area, described by searchers as rugged and rocky, eventually moved onto private land, and was eventually blanketed in snow. On November 20, 2019; officials announced that the operation efforts would move from rescue to recovery.

“We have been coordinating with specialists, landowners, pilots, and others who will aid in the next phase of deploying trained search and rescue technicians through difficult terrain.” Courtney explained. “Current snow conditions have continued to cause difficulties in the search area. However, we are closely watching this snow pack and melt, which began accumulating in the area during the first night of the search.”

In the meantime, Courtney said that searchers intend to continue their work in planning, monitoring, and coordinating for the resumption of operations as soon as safely possible.

“We are eagerly waiting for conditions that will allow us to resume physical search efforts with the safety and technical ability that will be required,” Courtney said.

This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.