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Hundreds help search for missing NY teen - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hundreds help search for missing NY teen

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PIERCEFIELD, N.Y. -

"It's been amazing to live in a small community like this and to see the outpouring of support. It's been incredible," John Gillis said.

John Gillis is overwhelmed by the support he and his family are getting from hundreds of volunteers. Friends and even strangers all looking for his son, 18-year-old Colin Gillis.

"Everybody is staying optimistic. We are not going to stop until we have an answer," said Adam Hurteau, a volunteer.

More than 500 people have helped search for the missing college student, who was home visiting family and friends for spring break.

"Everyone knows everyone, and if you don't you help people in need in small communities," said Paula O'Brien-Piraino, a volunteer.

"I've been a forest ranger 16 years, and I have been on numerous searches and I've never seen an outpouring like this," said Scott VanLear of the N.Y. Environmental Conservation Department.

The teen was last seen walking along Route 3 in Tupper Lake around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, shortly after leaving an underage drinking party. Crews have thoroughly searched a 1-mile radius around the area.

"Even if it's the thickest brush that you couldn't even imagine he has gotten through, the roughest terrain, we are making sure everything has been covered in that mile," VanLear said.

And the area of the roadside search has been expanded.

"Basically we have covered everything; 150 feet in on both sides of the road, 5 miles west of point last seen and nearly into Tupper Lake 2 or 3 miles to the east," VanLear said.

Crews also spent the day searching the Racquette River. It was frozen early Sunday morning and investigators have not ruled out that Colin may have wandered onto the ice. Police have no solid theories what may have happened to the pre-med college student. They have not ruled out the possibility he may have been struck by a car. But they are fairly confident he is not hiding from anyone.

"We don't have any indication that he has left the area," N.Y. State Police Lt. Scott Heggelke said.

And as volunteers, friends and family continue their search, too, they're holding on to hope.

"This whole effort has really helped us get through it and stay optimistic," dad John Gillis said.

Related Story:

Tupper Lake teen missing

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