A Navy helicopter, search dogs and a lot of manpower concentrated on Joseph Whidbey State Park Thursday in an effort to find a 15-year-old boy who had left home early that morning.
The little state park on West Beach borders Navy property, which includes a stretch of beach called Rocky Point. The helicopter spent about an hour over the site, concentrating on an area of the park covered by thick stands of alders and underbrush.
Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said Andrew Schuldt, an Oak Harbor High School student, left the family home in the area at 3 a.m. “He left on foot after an argument with a friend,” Brown said in a written statement. “The friend advises that Andrew made comments that were out of character and unanticipated.”
An unusual 911 call is associated with the case. Around 10 a.m. Thursday, a caller reported a “naked hiker” on a state park trail. The male hiker was reportedly wearing only a hat and hiking boots. Law enforcement responded, thinking it might be the missing boy. That proved not to be the case.
“The naked person is not related to the missing juvenile,” Brown said Friday morning after talking to detectives. “We’ve learned it’s not.”
Whoever the naked person was, he was the talk of the park. Bill Pardy was walking the trails with his collies and he’d heard about the naked hiker. “The sheriff said he might be around here some place,” he said. Two women, one a jogger and another looking for a lost dog were in the area, but neither had seen such a person.
“He could have picked a better day to go walking around with no clothes on,” Pardy said. As usual in November, it was cool and overcast.
Brown said Friday that while the naked hiker report was not related to Schuldt’s disappearance, it is what focused the search on the Joseph Whidbey State Park area. The search started about 10 a.m. and ended around 3 p.m. Some clothes were found. “They looked fairly fresh but they weren’t his clothes,” Brown said, referring to Schuldt.
Brown said the boy had commented about traveling to Canada or Mexico but he only had a limited amount of cash with him and had no access to other resources.
No foul play is suspected but the boy’s parents and Sheriff Brown remained very worried about the boy’s well-being. “We’re just trying to figure out where the kid might be,” Brown said.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Andrew Schuldt should call 911 immediately. He is described at 6-feet, 1-inch tall, 180 pounds with green eyes.