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Search Team to Seek Wis. Student

November 15, 2002

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DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) _ A nine-person search team is heading for Ecuador in hopes of finding a college student from Wisconsin who has not been seen in nearly four months.

Beloit College student David Byrd-Felker, 21, disappeared July 22 after checking into a hotel in the remote town of Zamora, Ecuador. He had gone to the Amazon forest on a school trip, but chose to stay after his classmates went back home.

Sharon Scavuzzo, 47, will lead the search mission, which planned to leave Friday. Scavuzzo runs K-9 Search and Rescue Teams of Florida Inc., a nonprofit volunteer group that helps investigators search for missing people.

The group plans to search half of Podocarpus National Park in eight days, with local police as guides. They will use specially trained dogs, Scavuzzo said.

``We feel pretty confident that if he’s in there, we’re going to find him,″ Scavuzzo said.

Byrd-Felker made a journal entry on July 21 about hiking in that park. Police believe he went backpacking there the next day and never returned.

Byrd-Felker’s mother, Maggie Felker of Madison, Wis., will accompany the group on the mission, which could cost as much as $100,000.

``I have a 24-year-old son,″ Scavuzzo said. ``There could be nothing better than knowing we’re going to put her son on the plane with us.″

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