Officer Jonathan Rogers and his K-9 Gunther of the York Police Department. Credit: Photo courtesy of York Police Department

YORK, Maine — The Police Department’s new K9 officer Gunther was pivotal in finding a runaway teenager from Surry, who had fled police into a swampy wooded area off Cider Hill Road Tuesday night.

According to police, the 14-year-old boy was spotted in York Corner around 7 p.m. May 14 by a “vigilant” off-duty Amtrak worker who happened to be traveling through York. The teen had left his home within the past several days, and law enforcement officials had information that he might take a train and so alerted Amtrak employees to look for him.

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The youth was listed in the national missing persons database as “missing endangered,” a typical classification for a youth runaway, police said. Officers responded to York Corner and investigated, but could not locate him.

Later that evening, shortly after 8:30 p.m., off-duty officer Kevin Marrie called dispatch and reported seeing the juvenile walking on Cider Hill Road. Patrolman Rance Mills responded and located the teen at 397 Cider Hill Road, but he fled into the woods behind a nearby home.

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Patrolman Jon Rogers and K9 Gunther, the department’s K9 unit, responded to track the boy shortly after 9 p.m. Rogers and Sgt. Luke Ernenwein followed Gunther through thick, wet and swampy woods. The boy was hiding in thick reeds near the river, and was found by Gunther is less than five minutes, police said.

“The dog went right to him,” said Lt. Steve Spofford. “We were able to get the kid and get him to a safe space.”

The juvenile was escorted out of the woods and transported to the York Hospital emergency room for evaluation at the request of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.