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Family Calls Off Search for Missing Student

Family Calls Off Search for Missing Student

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Family members have called off a search for a Brigham Young University student who disappeared while hiking in China.

The father and brothers of David Sneddon, who was traveling alone, ended the search after following his trail to an area near Tibet.

Family members had planned to continue searching for another week or more, but decided this week to come home after the trail of people who said they had seen Sneddon ran cold.

"They are in the process of coming home," said Kathleen Sneddon, David's mother. "They feel they have done all they can do in China, but we will continue to pursue various avenues from this end."

Sneddon, 24, of Providence, was last seen by an innkeeper near Tiger Leaping Gorge on Aug. 10. Sneddon had left his large pack at a hostel outside the gorge and was, searchers concluded, traveling with basically just 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 searchers have found several people beyond the gorge that remember seeing him.

The family followed such sightings to a place about a mile from where David Sneddon would have taken a bus back for a flight to make an Aug. 25 business meeting in Korea, and then his fall classes at BYU, but from there no trace of the him could be found.

"I just still have hope that he'll be found," said Kathleen Sneddon. "I just think he's alive, I can't add anything about hope or when or how."

David Sneddon, one of 11 children, served an LDS mission in Korea and was studying both Korean and Mandarin at BYU. By all accounts his Chinese was good enough to converse without an interpreter.

Kathleen Sneddon said she "couldn't ask for better support" than what the family has received from U.S. and Chinese officials in China who have helped in the search.

The family also has discounted rumors that he is living with a local woman in China.

"We do not believe that David is staying with a Chinese woman somewhere in China as his religious training and missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would preclude this type of behavior," family members conducting the search wrote home in an e-mail.

The family also does not believe he has gone underground, mainly since he wouldn't have any money. The last time he drew cash from his bank account was Aug. 5.

Besides, his mother said she is confident in what Chinese officials have told her: "You can't hide an American 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 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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