It was the morning of Sept. 1, 2015 when Macin left home. His family was under the impression that he had boarded a school bus to Desert Hills High School in St. George, where Macin is a senior.

“We heard him get up and leave,” Macin’s father, Darrin Smith said. But Macin never got onto that bus. The night before, Macin and his father Darrin argued. His father took away Macin’s cellphone and laptop computer. No one has seen or heard from Macin since that night.

There were some slivers of hope that filled the first days of Macin’s disappearance. Police had issued an alert, social media posts were shared, and tips were rolling in.

The first promising lead came in a potential sighting of the 6-foot-4, blond-haired, 17-year-old Macin in Las Vegas.

“So, OK. He’s in Vegas,” Macin’s father remembered thinking. The family spent several days looking in Vegas, however were unable to find Macin,” the father said.

Then there was a potential Macin sighting in Mesquite, Arizona. The Smith family rushed southwest to the Nevada-Arizona border town. However there was still no Macin.

“At first, when he didn’t come home, we thought, ‘OK, now he’ll come home,'” Darrin said. “‘OK, now it’s the weekend. There’s no more school, he’ll be home now.'”

If Macin is a runaway as his family, authorities and those searching for him believe, he’s not alone. There is more than a million kids take to the streets in America each year. They spend their lives out along riverbanks and under freeway underpasses as world passes them by.

The reality of runaway adolescents hits home in Utah. The state’s two largest police departments have taken over 1,200 juvenile runaway reports last year.

On the corners of the Internet, there are websites that give less-than-credible how-to information to those researching on how to run away from home.

In St. George, the Smith family just wants to see Macin to return safe. Friends, neighbors and a professional team of volunteer searchers are working to make this happen. So far, they’ve been unsuccessful.

The Smith family and the search and rescue community are working hand-in-hand with the St. George Police Department with the goal of finding Macin. As of Thursday, Sgt. Sam Despain said there’s no updates on Macin’s whereabouts.

“Macin Smith’s case is a hard one,” said Dave Cummings, commander of Red Rock Search and Rescue. “There are no hard sightings.” If only Macin had his cellphone with him. “If he had the phone, we’d have some ping information,” Cummings said. “We’d have a direction of travel, we could map where he had gone.”

The decision to take his son’s phone away is haunting Darrin. “Knowing what I know now, I’d never take it away,” he said.

With almost 200 volunteers and 41 search operations this year, Red Rock Search and Rescue encourages parents to rethink the taking of cellphones for punishment.

Macin is one of six children. Darrin said the more disciplinary measures that worked for some of his older children didn’t work for Macin.

“I’ve learned that every child is different,” Darrin said. “I would have tried harder to be better friends with him so that he could confide in me and talk to me more.”

A week after Macin’s disappearance, his family found a note, a letter Macin didn’t want his family to find until later. The contents of the letter were the kind that caused some concern for Macin’s father.

“It made us worry he might harm himself,” Macin’s father said.

Twenty-five days since his disappearance, Macin’s family and 32 locals scoured BLM land just outside the Smith family home. They are looking for any lead to guide them towards Macin’s whereabouts.

After the massive search that turned up nothing, Macin’s father first felt a sense of relief. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s good because there’s a chance he didn’t hurt himself.'”

On this same late September Saturday 50 volunteers search the outskirts of Las Vegas, looking for Macin.

The moment of respite doesn’t last long for Darrin. “We search, we get a little hope,” he said. “But as time goes on, we start to think maybe something did happen to him.”

The search for Macin stands at 66 days. This high school senior still hasn’t come home.

~Acdetective~

 

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