DOWNTOWN — A teenager from Tennessee who had been missing for more than a month was found safe and unharmed Wednesday sleeping inside a car parked in a Downtown parking structure, police said.
Hunter Barnes, 17, was last seen on the morning of June 13 at a federal credit union in Maryville, Tenn. withdrawing $1,800. His family organized a walk and T-shirts were sold to raise money for a search, according to Knoxnews.com.
No word yet as to why Barnes drove out to California in a white Mazda Protégé.
Santa Monica Police Sgt. Richard Lewis said police responded to Parking Structure 3, located at 1320 Fourth St., after receiving a report from a Downtown service officer who saw the boy sleeping in the backseat of the Mazda, a violation of the Municipal Code.
Officers made contact with the teen, who provided his identification. Officers ran his name through their computer and discovered that he had been reported missing. He also matched the flyer officers were given before the start of their shift.
Barnes was transported to the Public Safety Facility where his family was notified. He was transported to a local juvenile facility until arrangements could be made to send him home. The vehicle was impounded, Lewis said.
“We would like to thank everyone for their assistance and support in helping to locate Hunter,” Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said in a news release.
Barnes’ sister, Cheyenne Dale Barnes, on Wednesday posted a Facebook message:
“Thank you everyone for all that you have done for my family. Thank you for the prayers because all of our prayers came true. God is amazing! Our family can’t express how much it means to us to have all this support and all the prayers.”