2 teens found, 2 still missing after escape from youth facility

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DRAPER — Police located two teens Wednesday who had run away from a youth center Tuesday evening. Two teens were still missing as of Wednesday night and had warrants out for their arrest.

Three teenage boys, ages 15, 16 and 17, and an 18-year-old man ran away from the Genesis Youth Center, 14178 S. Pony Express Drive, shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday. Officials believe they may have obtained a vehicle to assist with their departure, according to Elizabeth Sollis from the Utah Department of Human Services.

The youth fled from the center's gym during an activity, Sollis said.

However, Jess Hopkins, 18, from Vernal and the 17-year-old man from Lehi were located Wednesday afternoon. However, Tanner Christensen, 16, from Draper and Miguel Hernandez, 15, from Sandy were still missing as of Wednesday night.

The Genesis Center is a facility that houses teens who have been ordered by a judge to live, eat, attend school and render community service for an average of 60 to 90 days. The center is supervised, but the building is not secure.

Law enforcement, the teens' families and their case workers are aware of the missing teens.

Law enforcement looked into reports that youth "wearing green clothing" were spotted on a freeway. Lt. Darren Paul said a worker at JCW's The Burger Boys at 3605 N. Thanksgiving Way had left her car warming up and had gone back inside the business, when she saw a man approach her SUV, get in and drive away. The man drove the white 2004 Isuzu Ascender the wrong way out of the drive-thru, Paul said.

Paul said the man was wearing a light-colored hoodie and baseball cap, but said he believed there was a good possibility it was one of the escaped teens because of a similarity in descriptions and ages. The license plate number of the Ascender is A207JV.

They could become desperate and might put some people at risk. So really our concern is community safety and the youth's safety.

–Elizabeth Sollis

“They’re kids, and they’re kids who’ve been in trouble in the past. That is why they were at the youth facility,” said Sollis. "It’s been cold for several hours. When they left, they didn’t have many belongings. So, if they haven’t connected with family then they are without a lot of means,” she said. “They could become desperate and might put some people at risk. So really our concern is community safety and the youth’s safety.”

The teens were each wearing basketball shoes and dark green sweatshirts and shorts, except for one who was wearing dark green sweatpants. Three of the teens are Caucasian and have dark brown hair and one is described as Hispanic with black hair, according to Sollis.

The young men may be heading toward family members who live in Sandy, Draper, Lehi and Vernal, she said.

An on-call judge issued warrants for the teens' arrests late Tuesday night, because they escaped from a court-ordered program. Those who see the teens should call 911.

Contributing: Haley Smith and Andrew Adams


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