The search for Big Horn County teen Selina Not Afraid continues.
Not Afraid, 16, was riding in a van from Billings to Hardin on Wednesday. The driver of the van fixed a mechanical problem, according to Big Horn County Sheriff Pete Big Hair.
The driver took off with three passengers, leaving Not Afraid and another woman behind because he was concerned the van would stall again. The driver reportedly called his mother to pick up the woman and Not Afraid; when the other ride arrived, Not Afraid was no longer there.
Family, friends, search and rescue teams and volunteers took to the air, horseback, and on foot in a three-to-five mile radius at the rest stop on I-90.
“There’s about two or three different stories from these people in the vehicle,” Big Hair said. “They’re not all in one story. There’s different stories from a couple of them. We kind of don’t know if they’re telling the truth or not. So that’s why we want to verify.”
Sheriff Big Hair says the search moved to also include the Toluca off-ramp, exit 488, and exit 491, which he called the washout - two locations where those involved said the van stalled.
The Sheriff says they will continue following any leads.
The disappearance of Not Afraid triggered a state-wide Missing/Endangered Person Advisory on Wednesday evening. The advisory said that she may have been intoxicated at the time, and was not dressed for cold weather conditions.
Anyone with information about Not Afraid is asked to contact the Big Horn County Sheriff's Office at 406-665-9780, or dial 911.
Whenever a child is reported missing in Montana, law enforcement agencies work quickly to determine the circumstances, and whether or not to issue an AMBER Alert, or a Missing/Endangered Person Advisory (MEPA).
The AMBER Alert program started in Texas in 1996 after 9-year old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered. In response to community concern, broadcasters in the area teamed up with law enforcement agencies to establish a program capable of quickly distributing information about child abductions to the general public.
In memory of Amber, the program was called the AMBER Plan – America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.
In Montana, officials also have the option of issuing a Missing/Endangered Person Advisory.
To initiate an AMBER Alert, call 9-1-1 and provide your local law enforcement agency with all the information you can about a suspected child abduction. To activate the program, all of the following criteria must be met:
- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that a child has been abducted or has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
- The missing child is age 17 years or younger, or has a proven mental or physical disability.
- The law enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
- The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer.
The AMBER Alert system is not used to track runaways, missing children, or children involved in custody disputes. The program is restricted to child abduction cases that could be life threatening.
MISSING/ENDANGERED PERSON ADVISORYA MEPA Advisory is initiated solely by Montana law enforcement agencies using the following criteria:
- Do the circumstances fail to meet the criteria for an AMBER Alert?
- Is the person missing under unexplained, involuntary or suspicious circumstances?
- Is the person believed to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, or environmental or weather conditions; to be in the company of a potentially dangerous person; or is there some other factor that may put the person in peril?
- Is there information that could assist the public in the safe recovery of the missing person? The initial advisory will include any available information, like name, age, physical description, date of birth and where the person was last seen. It might also include information about whether the person has a health condition or physical or mental disability.