PIERCEFIELD - More than 100 volunteers are out searching today for a Tupper Lake teen who was last seen early Sunday morning.
Colin Gillis, 18, wandered away from a party on Paskungameh Road Saturday night and was last seen walking westbound on state Route 3 near the line between Franklin and St. Lawrence counties, between Tupper Lake and Piercefield. That was just about the hour when the time changed from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. due to Daylight Savings Time.
Gillis had not been found as of 3 p.m. today, but police said they did find two items belonging to Gillis in the area of Setting Pole Dam Road. The search will continue through 7 or 8 p.m. today and then start again Tuesday morning.
State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Ranger Lt. Gary Friedrich said Gillis' family spent a lot of time looking for him Sunday, then reported him missing at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday after they weren't able to find him.
State police and DEC personnel started looking for him Sunday night; then they started a full-blown search this morning.
An airboat is searching the Piercefield Flow to see if there are any holes in the ice where someone might have gone through, and the Tupper Lake Dive Team has been sent out as well. Friedrich said they haven't found anything yet to indicate someone went through the ice.
A helicopter is also searching the entire area from the sky.
In addition to that, more than 100 volunteers, mostly local people and friends of the Gillis family, were being split up into groups of around 10 people, with each group sent out with a forest ranger or other person trusted to be a crew boss, Friedrich said. They are searching along the roads and the woods around state Route 3.
"We'll try to cover all the ground from Piercefield to Tupper Lake if we have to," Friedrich said.
While the search is going on, state police are also conducting an investigation, talking to all the people who were at the party Gillis was at, as well as family members and other interested parties.
Gillis just got home on spring break from college. Some have said he left the party because he was upset, but Friedrich said he hasn't had that information substantiated yet.
"There was no reason to believe he was upset about anything, no extenuating circumstances," Friedrich said.
A family friend from Long Lake who was participating in the search said Gillis' parents, John and Patricia, aren't getting much sleep.
His parents and other family members were at the Piercefield Town Hall today.
"The family has been very helpful," Friedrich said. "They're here and giving us whatever information we need."
Friedrich said there's no specific amount of time such a search would continue.
"It's as long as we feel we're being productive, we'll continue," Friedrich said.
Gillis is a white male, 6 feet, 1 inch tall, weighing about 170 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. State police said he was last seen wearing a white shirt with black stripes, blue jeans and red sneakers.
DEC said they plan on holding a press conference soon. The Enterprise will provide more updates as the day progresses. Anyone with information is urged to contact state police in Ray Brook at 518-897-2000.
Contact Jessica Collier at 518891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.