Searchers comb Montana valley for missing college student

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 09, 2014 4:00 PM

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) - Dozens of law enforcement officials and volunteers scoured the winding canyons and trout streams of western Montana on Tuesday in a search for a University of Montana student who is the second to go missing in recent weeks.

August Kramer, 21, who grew up in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, vanished over the weekend after telling another student on the campus in Missoula that he was going fly fishing, a recently acquired sport, authorities said.

Outgoing and incoming calls on his cell phone appeared to end about 10 p.m. on Saturday, said Missoula County Detective Lieutenant Scott Newell.  

But Kramer's debit card was used the following afternoon at a McDonald's, and his father reported receiving an electronic message from his son that contained a photo of the student with a fly rod near what appeared to be a river, Newell said.

Kramer's family traveled to Montana after he did not return to campus as planned on Sunday, and more relatives from Minnesota were expected to be on hand on Tuesday to join county search crews and dozens of volunteers who are coordinating efforts on a Facebook page.

The senior majoring in forestry is the second University of Montana student to disappear in recent weeks. The body of Lucius Robbi, 21, of California was found late last month in the mountains of central Idaho after disappearing on Aug. 19 while driving to the Missoula campus.

Authorities said Robbi died from blunt force trauma the same day he went missing after his car plunged off down a 60-foot embankment in an accident being investigated by the Idaho State Police.

Those seeking Kramer are challenged with combing vast swathes of rugged terrain in Montana's Bitterroot Valley near the Idaho border without having any indication of his whereabouts, Newell said.

"There must be 25,000 vehicles here that are similar to his and there are hundreds of streams and lakes to fish," Newell said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)