An Oklahoma City valedictorian vanished Sunday while on a family vacation in South America, according to authorities in the United States and Ecuador.
Family members say local authorities believe the teen may have been kidnapped. Officials with the American Embassy in Ecuador tell News 9 they have been notified of the disappearance and are monitoring the situation closely. Over the phone Tuesday, the teen's father told News 9's Michael Konopasek that an extensive search is underway.
In May, 18-year-old August Reiger graduated at the top of his class from the prestigious Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City.
"He's a great kid," Candace Lockett, mother of August's girlfriend said. "Oklahoma needs him back."
August's father, Chris Reiger, says he was hiking a mountain with his son and the rest of his family on Sunday near their resort hotel. They were halfway through a three-hour journey when August took the lead and disappeared.
"We stayed up there 10 or 15 minutes, and August wasn't around," Chris Reiger said during a phone interview from his Ecuadorian hotel. "I thought he must have gone on. You couldn't get lost. There's only two trails. You can see the whole town … all you have to do is go down."
Friends and family say they are confident there is no reason for August to run away. Local authorities in the tourist community of Banos tell family members kidnappings are rare, but they believe it is a possibility.
"Their first plan is to make sure [August is] not somewhere on that mountain," Chris said. "Then the next step is to think about kidnapping."
The family says dozens of local officials have been searching for August, including 60 members of the Ecuadorian military. For friends in Oklahoma, all they can do is hope and pray.
"I'm just choosing to be optimistic right now that I will get a phone call that he's been found and everything is OK," Lockett said.
August is fluent in Spanish and loves Anthropology. Those are two of the reasons why he chose to travel to Ecuador. Chris says August recently received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Oklahoma starting this fall.