Missing teen with muscular dystrophy found alive in Flagler County

Bloodhound used scent on clothing items to find 17-year-old boy in woods

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – A 17-year-old boy who had been missing since Friday was found alive on Tuesday about an hour after some of his clothing items were found in a wooded area of Palm Coast, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Rickey Wheeler, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and was in need of medication, disappeared Friday from the Madison Green apartments in Palm Coast.

A group of close to 100 volunteers, as well as law enforcement officers from several agencies in the Central Florida area, were searching a wooded area in Palm Coast on Tuesday afternoon when clothing that matched the items that Wheeler was wearing when he disappeared was found at about 5:30 p.m.

Deputies said at that point, they had volunteers clear the area so they could bring in bloodhounds to track the scent from the clothing.

At 6:23 p.m., a bloodhound named Putnam from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office found Wheeler on an embankment. Although he was dehydrated and covered in bug bites, he was awake and coherent as he spoke with officers and even petted the dog that found him.

Wheeler's teacher at Flagler Palm Coast High School, Katie Kastner, was in tears upon hearing he was found. 

"You spend two years with the kid and you love him, you know? He's family. Just glad he's home. Can't wait to go see him and give him a hug," Kastner said. “He’s funny, he’s smart, he loves to talk to me about basketball, and we go back and forth: Who’s better, LeBron or Curry?”

Wheeler's best friend, Alex Dillard, said he can't wait to see him in school again.

"I'm really glad and fascinated and fantastic. It's so awesome," Dillard said.

When Wheeler disappeared, he was wearing camo Army shorts, green Nike sneakers and a gray shirt with blue stripes. Deputies said Tuesday that the clothing they found was consistent with the clothing Wheeler was last seen wearing.

Wheeler was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler on Tuesday evening.

Check back for more updates on this developing story.

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