HYDEN — A Leslie County teen who had gone missing from the Backwoods area of Hazard earlier this month is back home and unharmed.
Austin Deaton walked into the Mary Breckenridge Hospital in Hyden Monday at around 12:15 a.m., just minutes into his 18th birthday, and told staff there that he was ready to return home, according to Leslie County Deputy Sam Mullins.
Deaton had been visiting family in Hazard on Nov. 11 when he went missing. Family and friends said they had not heard from him, and it was unexpected and unlike him to run away. The case was treated as a missing person’s case since he had not indicated to anyone he was leaving.
Deaton had told his brother he was going to walk from his mother’s house near Memorial Gym to his father’s house in Walkertown. When he was not found at either place, his family contacted the Hazard Police Department and reported him missing.
Deaton’s aunt, Sarah Collins, had custody of him and said she was shocked. She said since his birthday was fast approaching it seemed odd that he would run away since he would be a legal adult in just two weeks.
After a two-week search and several friends and family members posting photos and descriptions on social media sites, Deaton surfaced at the hospital this week. The staff at Mary Breckenridge Hospital called the Leslie County Sheriff’s office after the teen indicated that he was a missing person and he was ready to go home.
Deputy Mullins responded to the call, and said that he put Deaton in his cruiser and asked what had happened. “He really didn’t have an explanation or he didn’t want to say why he left,” said Mullins.
Deaton said he had been moving around quite a bit to avoid being caught, but had been staying with different friends, Mullins said. He told Mullins that he wanted to make things right with his family.
“He said, well today is my birthday and I have decided to come back home to my family and make things right,” said Mullins.
Deaton had no injuries and was returned safely.