Authorities Thursday night found a 14-year-old autistic girl about five hours after she disappeared from the Glenville branch of the YMCA on Droms Road.
Colleen Sweet was found by searchers at approximately 10:30 p.m., unharmed, near the Oak Hill School at 39 Charlton Road, said authorities. She had attended the school in the past, an official said.
Late Thursday she had been reunited with relatives; officials planned to interview her in detail at a later point.
Sweet went missing at approximately 5:15 p.m., triggering a massive search that involved at least a dozen fire, police and other agencies and more than 150 people.
Searchers scoured the woods and neighborhoods surrounding the YMCA. They used bloodhounds and thermal cameras and received assistance from a searchlight-equipped state police helicopter.
Glenville Police Chief Michael Ranalli said Thursday night crews would continue searching for Sweet until they found her, even if it took all night. “We will stay here for as long as it takes. If she is not going home, we are not going home,” he said in a news conference early on in the search.
Sweet was swimming at the YMCA with an assistant from the Charlton School in Burnt Hills, where she is a resident, when she was last seen, Ranalli said.
Police interviewed people and initially did not know if she had left by herself or with someone.
“We don’t know what to expect or what her motivation is,” Ranalli said earlier in the evening. Sweet has Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder in which people have difficulties understanding how to interact socially.
Sweet was wearing black sweatpants and a black hooded sweatshirt when she disappeared. Authorities were concerned that her clothing was insufficient protection against temperatures expected to reach the low 30s overnight.
“The weather is a concern,” Ranalli said during the news conference.
The area surrounding the YMCA is wooded, swampy in some places and residential in others, Ranalli said, presenting obstacles for search teams. It also contains Indian Meadows Park, a town-owned tract of land. Lt. Rick Conley of the Glenville Police Department, who coordinated the effort, said authorities conducted a methodical search that covered every street and every road in the area as well as other areas she was likely to hide.
Involved in the search were the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control and state rangers, state troopers, volunteer fire companies from Glenville and from Saratoga County, a search and rescue unit from Rensselaer County and police agencies from throughout the area.