Teen's attempt to vanish grabs national attention

Teen's attempt to vanish grabs national attention
Jonathan Croom, 18, and the backpack he may be carrying with him.

RIDDLE, Ore. - Text messages to a friend suggest 18-year-old Jonathan Croom wanted to leave his life behind.

Instead, the story is grabbing national attention as his family searches for a teen "obsessed" with the movie "Into the Wild."

"I've never felt a fear like this," his father, David Croom, said. "It's unexplainable."

The father is in Douglas County helping search for his son.

David Croom said his son vanished just after setting out on the long road trip home to Apache Junction, Arizona, from Lynnwood, Washington, where he'd been visiting a friend.

Jonathan sent the friend a text message about going "on an adventure." He hasn't been heard from since.

David Croom now fears that adventure may have been inspired by the 2007 film "Into the Wild" about a young hiker seeking isolation in the Alaskan wilderness.

"This was a kid who was obsessed with the movie," David Croom said. "My concern is he is up there with very limited resources, and no experience."

Authorities found Jonathan Croom's abandoned SUV near Riddle on August 19. They contacted the registered owner, David Croom, after the car hadn't moved for two days, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said.

Inside the SUV were Jonathan's wallet, $200 in cash and a book on outdoor survival tactics.

"Just as in that movie, he left everything behind and took off," David Croom said. "And we just don't know what he left with."

Ground searches where the vehicle was found have not turned up any leads. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said it will conduct limited searches, including air searches, based on information received.

Jonathan Croom is described as 6-foot-1, 140 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He may be in possession of a multi-colored backpack, the sheriff's office said.

If anyone has seen Jonathan Croom, you are asked to contact the Douglas County Sheriff's Office at (541) 440-4471.