Missing students found at rest area3/12/09

March 12, 2009

By Marianne Apfelbaum

Observer staff

Three Williston Central School students who were reported missing on Monday afternoon were found unharmed after 2 a.m. on Tuesday at an interstate rest area.

Hunter Green, 13, Alexandra Lamothe, 14, and Breanna Sweeney, 14, were reported missing by Williston Central School Principal Jackie Parks on March 9, according to police. Police said the children never boarded the school bus on Monday, and were last seen at about 3:30 p.m.

The children’s parents met with Parks and police at the school at 7:15 p.m., according to Sgt. Bart Chamberlain. Police began search efforts, and their investigation led to a room at the Residence Inn, where the mother of one of the children’s friends was staying, Chamberlain said.

Police didn’t find the children in the room, but did notice three sets of footprints leading into the woods near the inn, Chamberlain said. A Vermont State Police canine unit was called in and the children were traced to a nearby I-89 rest area. Police “found the children at 2:11 a.m. attempting to get a ride” from an out-of-state tractor-trailer driver parked at the rest area, according to Chamberlain. The children were unharmed and a background check of the driver didn’t turn up anything suspicious, according to police.

Chamberlain said the children were “underdressed for the weather and very cold,” so rescue was called to examine them for frostbite. No treatment was needed.

Parks declined to comment on the incident, citing student confidentiality.

Williston School District Principal Walter Nardelli e-mailed parents on Tuesday morning: “Yesterday afternoon, three Williston students left immediately after school together and did not return to their homes. The Williston police were notified and the students were finally located late last night. We are thankful that all the students are safe. We are currently working to support the students and their families,” the e-mail stated in part.

The children were taken to the Williston Police Department, where their parents picked them up. No charged were filed, Chamberlain said.