A teenager who vanished nearly three years ago in California was found alive outside of a gas station in Utah last week, authorities said.
Connerjack Oswalt, who has autism, went missing in Clearlake on Sept. 28, 2019, when he was 16 years old. He was reported missing to the Clearlake Police Department the following day.
The search for him ended earlier this month after the Summit County Sheriff’s Office found him outside of Jeremy’s Store in Summit Park.
“It boggles all of our minds,” Lt. Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said Friday. “It’s just a really miraculous discovery if you will.”
Several weeks before Oswalt’s identity was confirmed, residents in the area began calling the sheriff’s office to report seeing a homeless person pushing a cart. Wright said they do not have a lot of transients in the area because it gets very cold due to the high elevation.
Deputies made contact with the person several times and offered to help him find shelter, but he always refused and would not give his name, Wright said.
On April 9, a person called the sheriff’s office and said a young man was sleeping outside of a gas station. When deputies arrived, the person was cold so they let him warm up in a patrol vehicle. This time, deputies scanned the person’s fingerprint.
Wright said they got a hit for an arrest warrant out of Nevada for assault on a police officer. The warrant was issued in February but spelled Oswalt’s last name wrong, according to Wright.
Suspecting that there was more to the story, deputies did some more digging and came across a missing person poster for Oswalt in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database. When contacted, both Clearlake police and Oswalt’s mother confirmed that he was still missing.
Immediately Oswalt’s family drove from Idaho Falls, where they had relocated, to Utah to be reunited with him.
Details about how long Oswalt was in Utah or how he arrived there remain unclear. Clearlake police said Friday that they believe he was a runaway.
Oswalt’s mother, Suzanne Flint, was not immediately available for comment.