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Search for Scout will use dogs, heat-detection devices

Story Highlights

• Nighttime search to include dog teams and special heat-sensing equipment
• Park spokesman says boy should be able to survive several days
• Missing-person alert issued for boy "in case he is no longer in the area"
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McGRADY, North Carolina (CNN) -- Rescuers brought in heat-sensing equipment Monday for a nighttime search for a 12-year-old Boy Scout who has been missing for two days in the North Carolina mountains, a National Park Service ranger said.

Michael Auberry went missing Saturday afternoon during a camping trip with his Boy Scout troop at Doughton Park, along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Virginia state line. (Map)

Park service ranger Tina White said searchers had found no new clues during Monday's daytime search, but added that night activities bring "some advantages."

"The heat sensory equipment helps at nighttime because there's a greater difference between body temperature and air temperature," she said.

Additionally, White said, some dog teams would remain out during the night, although a smaller number of both human and dog searchers would be on the job for the evening. ( Watch volunteers search for missing boy Video)

Wilkes County, North Carolina, issued a missing-person report in case the boy had wandered out of their general search area, but White said there has been "no indication whatsoever that there's been any foul play."

"We truly believe we're dealing with a lost child out in the woods," White said.

Weather remained a concern for searchers because temperatures have hovered near and below freezing at night. White said Michael was wearing a heavy coat and boots and had received Scout training to cover himself with leaves to keep warm.

"Our main concern would be rain," White said, noting that rain was a possibility in the region's forecast. "Rain would be worse than snow. ... We just want to get him in before the weather turns."

The father of the missing Scout described the family as having "ups and downs." He said they are clinging to hope that he will be found but they are worried because Michael has attention deficit disorder and does not have his medication with him.

On Sunday, the day after he disappeared, searchers found snack wrappers and a mess kit used by Michael about a half mile from the camp where he was last seen, park service officials said. They also found footprints with impressions similar to the boots Michael was wearing, but White said those had not been confirmed as the boy's footprints.

White said wildlife is not a major concern because animals in the area are generally small and non-threatening. The trail this time of year is also quiet because it is not prime hiking and camping season and many campsites are not open.

White said 70 more searchers were on the ground Monday.

"It's safe to say it's (the number of searchers) in the 100s," she said.

Officials and volunteers had tightened the targeted area and slowed down the process for a more careful search.

David Bauer, National Park Service spokesman, said that in the first stages of a search, searchers hit the high-probability areas first and as fast as possible. But when that yields nothing, they go to the grid method, which means "slowing it down, closing up the gaps and looking closer" at those areas, he said.

Officials have emphasized their optimistic outlook that Michael could survive several days on his own, despite nighttime freezing temperatures.

"People have been out a week or longer in colder conditions," White said, and been fine.

In addition to five dog teams, two tracking teams and police helicopters, White said officials had been offered a fixed wing aircraft.

Michael, who is from Greensboro, North Carolina, had remained with an adult at the campsite Saturday while other Scouts went for a hike, Bauer said. When the other Scouts returned, they ate lunch with Michael, who later disappeared from the camp, Bauer said.

"We are not really sure why or what happened," Saundra Lewis of the Wilkes County Rescue Squad told CNN. "He was seen at the campsite and then a few minutes later he was missing."

Once Scouts and their leaders noticed that Michael was not in camp, they began a search and, within a half hour, called the park service, he said.

The white, 5-foot-4, 110-pound boy has reddish-brown curly hair and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a red jacket with reflective tape and a dark blue hat.

Lewis said the boy did not take his backpack.

CNN's Bob Franken contributed to this report.


story.missing.scout.nps.jpg

Michael Auberry went missing Saturday after separating from his Scout troop on a camping trip.

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