On Saturday, a University of Pittsburgh student who had been missing since April was reunited with his family after living with some homeless squatters in Glacier National Park in Montana. A park ranger had reported seeing him among the homeless people at the Montana park. After running his name through a National Crime Information Center database, he found him to be missing person from Pittsburgh. A private detective from Pittsburgh was then able to track him down several miles outside the park.

Pranesh Patel is a 23-year-old engineering student from Sicklerville, New Jersey. He was last seen by his roommate on April 24 during finals week at Pitt. His younger brother Tarak filed a missing persons report on him on May 2. His backpack, wallet, and keys were gone, but he left behind his laptop, cell phone, and many other possessions. Foul play was not suspected, and Patel had plenty of reasons to want to run away. He was failing most of his classes, had had a final project he was building stolen, and being in his fifth year in electrical engineering, he was afraid to tell his parents that he might not graduate. Back in December, Patel was arrested for three summary traffic violations and a drunk driving charge. He was released without bond, and several weeks before disappearing, he appeared in court to enter a one-year alternative sentencing program for first-time offenders, making him responsible for more than $1,000 in costs and fines and a suspended driver’s license.

After he disappeared, he was spotted in Washington, Pennsylvania asking for directions to Interstate 79. He was reported to have been living in a homeless encampment inside Glacier National Park. He was not detained by park rangers because he had not broken any laws. Now that he is home, his family can rest easy, and he can hopefully get his life back in order.

For related articles visit http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07176/796987-85.stm and http://www.nj.com/newsflash/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news26/1182632378238130.xml&storylist=jersey.

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