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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The family of a Brigham Young University student who vanished in China nearly five months ago believes he's still alive and being detained against his will.
Roy and Kathleen Sneddon of Providence, Utah, enlisted the help of Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, in diplomatic overtures to find their son, David Sneddon.
"Naturally, we hope and pray that he is" alive, Bennett said. "Certainly, I'm satisfied the U.S. embassy has done everything they can to find him."
At Bennett's request, U.S. Ambassador Clark Randt spoke with China's vice minister of foreign affairs, Zhou Wen Zhong, about Sneddon on Dec. 7.
Randt reported there was no reason to believe Sneddon was arrested stumbling onto any military base because there are no installations in that area.
Bennett said one of the challenges is that Sneddon's trail ended near the border of Tibet in the "Wild West" of western China.
Sneddon, 24, was last seen by an innkeeper near Tiger Leaping Gorge on Aug. 10. He left his backpack at a hostel outside the gorge and was traveling with only a Book of Mormon, a camera, some clothes and a toothbrush.
Tiger Leaping Gorge, near Lijiang in the Yunnan Province, runs between Haba Snow Mountain and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and is a popular attraction for backpackers.
Originally the family worried he might have fallen or been hurt inside the gorge. However, the Sneddon family found locals who recalled seeing him outside the gorge.
The family followed leads to a mile from where David Sneddon would have taken a bus for a flight to Korea en route back to the United States. From there no trace of the him could be found.
His parents are holding out hope he can be found alive because his body hasn't been discovered and an American would not go unnoticed for long in China.
Sneddon grew up in Nebraska, where he graduated from Lincoln East High School, before the family moved to Providence, about 65 miles northeast of Salt Lake City.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)