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Missing man hallucinating, Oregon sheriff says

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The sheriff directing the search for a young Oklahoma man missing in the wilds of southeastern Oregon said Friday the backpacker was hallucinating the last time he telephoned his family and told his girlfriend he was seeing plants coming out of the ground and running.

Dustin Self, 19, has been missing a month since setting out from his family home outside Oklahoma City to test himself against the wilderness. He had recently watched the movie ‘‘Into The Wild,’’ about a young man who renounces his worldly goods to live in the Alaska wilderness, only to die there. Self had also bought a lot of backpacking gear and planned to check out churches in Oregon that practice a South American religion that uses a hallucinogenic tea as a sacrament.

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Sheriff Dave Glerup said he thinks Self is either dead or walked off Steens Mountain and hitched a ride somewhere after his truck got stuck on a backcountry track.

With high winds over the mountain and heavy snow on the ground, there was no search planned for Friday. Searchers hoped a break in the weather Saturday would allow planes to fly over the mountain.

‘‘There is evidence now he was hallucinating at the time he talked with his father,’’ Glerup said from his office in Burns. ‘‘His father says that the young man had been using drugs in the past.’’

Self was also apparently using drugs to treat attention deficit disorder in order to stay awake on his drive to Oregon.

‘‘There is evidence he may have been either under the influence of drugs or sleep deprivation at the time he called his father’’ to report he was lost, the sheriff said, while also referencing Self’s conversation with his girlfriend.

Investigators also found on Self’s laptop that he had been visiting websites about hallucinogenic drugs such as peyote and PCP, Glerup said.

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