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BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) — A Breckenridge man who drove his car into Dillon Reservoir and swam to safety with only minor injuries has gone missing, and family members say the 27-year-old has bipolar disorder and may be hitchhiking.
Jack McAtee went missing Sept. 19, a day after crashing into the reservoir and acting erratically with the state trooper who helped him.
His black sedan veered onto the paved bicycle path, cutting through a 10-foot opening between a steel guardrail and a concrete highway barrier, according to a Colorado State Patrol report. The car left the path, rolling for about 135 feet across dirt and gravel along the reservoir. It went airborne for 110 feet, turning end over end, before it crashed into the water.
The car was almost entirely submerged. Miraculously, he swam to the surface, with only a laceration above his left eye.
McAtee claimed he had fallen asleep at the wheel. A state trooper interviewing McAtee said he did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, McAtee had recently stopped taking his medication for bipolar disorder, family members told The Summit Daily News (http://bit.ly/1u57nWE).
The state trooper did not know about McAtee's condition before taking him to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center for medical clearance and then to the Summit County jail for a mental evaluation. The trooper just knew that McAtee was acting erratically, his moods swinging from irritated to chatty.
At one point, McAtee asked the trooper if hitchhiking was legal in Colorado. Within certain guidelines, it can be, the trooper explained. McAtee then asked him where he would hitchhike if heading west on Interstate 70. Just making conversation, the trooper said, "Moab." The trooper left McAtee in a holding cell at the jail. At first, McAtee was in high spirits. Then he cried in his cell. Then, before the trooper departed, McAtee seemed to be in a good mood again.
The next day McAtee met with a psychologist. He was released at around 11 a.m. on Sept. 19. He was wearing a red hoodie and a tan hat. He had $67 in his pocket.
His friends and family haven't seen him or heard from him since.
Picking up on the hitchhiking theme in the troopers report, his family quickly assembled a team of volunteers, getting the word out to truck stops stretching from Salt Lake to St. Louis, where the McAtee family is from.
The Moab Times-Independent published a story on McAtee's disappearance just in case he followed up on the trooper's suggestion. No one there has yet to report a sighting.
However, a trucker in the Wheat Ridge area near Denver reported seeing McAtee.
Because of that tip, and the fact McAtee has made no bank transactions since his disappearance, the family is now focusing efforts closer to home. They now believe it's possible he is still in the Summit County area. Posters have been put up all over town and along trailheads.
McAtee's father, Steve McAtee, is currently leading search efforts from Breckenridge.
Summit County sheriff's spokeswoman Taneil Ilano told the Moab Times-Independent that McAtee's disappearance is being investigated as a missing-person case.
Anyone who has seen McAtee — who is 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighs 170 pounds and has green eyes — is asked to call the Summit County Sheriff's Office at (970) 668-8600.
Information from: Summit Daily News, http://www.summitdaily.com/
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