Oklahoma Teenager Inspired by 'Into the Wild' Missing in Oregon Wilderness

The vehicle belonging to Oklahoma teen Dustin Self was found this week.

ByABC News
April 18, 2013, 2:46 PM

April 18, 2013 — -- The vehicle belonging to an Oklahoma teenager who disappeared last month in a remote region of southeastern Oregon after viewing the movie "Into the Wild" was found this week. Search crews are waiting out the harsh weather to continue the search for the young man.

Dustin Self, 19, left his hometown of Piedmont, Okla., in mid-March for the Klamath Falls-Ashland area of Oregon, where he planned "to see if he could live in the wild," The Associated Press reported. According to the Harney County Sheriff's Office in Oregon, Self also planned to join the Church of the Holy Light of the Queen, a South American religion that uses hallucinogenic tea as a sacrament.

Tammy and Victor Self, the 19-year-old's parents, said that they'd tried to stop their son from venturing west into the wilderness.

"We did everything we could to try to talk him out of it," Tammy Self told The Associated Press. "He was leaving, no matter what."

Calls placed to Tammy and Victor Self by ABCNews.com were not immediately returned. The Harney County Sheriff's Office told ABCNews.com that the couple was currently en route to Oregon from Oklahoma.

On March 16, the Harney County Sheriff's Office received a telephone call from Victor Self, who said his son had called him while lost on a remote road in the southern part of the county, and needed help.

"His father and his girlfriend said his GPS sent him in the wrong direction, and he was somewhere on Fields Denio Road -- lost," Sheriff David R. Glerup told ABCNews.com. "A gas station had contact with him. A customer [at the gas station] said that he was headed for the Klamath Falls area, and they gave directions on a back remote road. We searched, but were unable to locate him."

On Monday, a rancher came across Self's pickup truck on the remote Stone House Road at the north end of Steens Mountain. The vehicle was located approximately two-and-one-half miles west of the Fields Denio Road and had slid off the roadway, police said, 35 miles north of the area first searched.

Glerup said some of his items were missing.

"We found his laptop, foodstuffs, that sort of thing. He had a backpack and a kit, and they're not in the vehicle," he said.

The search has been hampered by severe storm conditions, high winds and deep snow drifts in the area, the Sheriff's Office said. The temperature in the mountains is below zero.

"The Steens Mountain is a long fault, and it gets all the weather. We still have 15- to 20-foot snow drifts," Glerup said. "Because of high winds, we can't get an airplane safely up there. Once the weather breaks, we have a rancher who will fly."

A local rancher searched the area in a helicopter today and came up with no results, according to authorities.

He said the search-and-rescue plane would resume the search for Self on Saturday.

Glerup described the land where Self vanished as particularly harsh.

"It's pretty primitive, wild lands up there," he said.

Tammy Self told the AP that her son was a religious young man and a vegetarian, who had no interest in killing and eating animals. She said that the last movie he'd watched was "Into the Wild." Made in 2007, the movie is based on the true story of Chris McCandless, who died of starvation at the age of 23 after he ventured into the Alaskan wilderness with little food and equipment.

Tammy Self said that her son "thought he was going to eat berries," but she told him that "berries don't grow in wintertime." In his recovered journal, McCandless' last written words were "Beautiful Blueberries."