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Timeline released of Sonoma teen Aiden Clune’s movements before his disappearance

Elko County Sheriff’s officials have provided a timeline of Sonoma teenager Aiden Clune’s actions on April 27 before he stopped his truck on U.S. 93 in east Nevada and disappeared 21 miles into the wilderness.

Authorities have organized a final search for Clune, which will take place on Saturday. It will include four to six horses, four search and rescue dogs, and local Elko County Sheriff Aitor Narvazia.

So far, tracking efforts and aerial searches have failed to yield any new findings, Undersheriff Justin Ames said.

And one major question still remains unanswered: Why did Aiden Clune run off into the Nevada wilderness? His footsteps showed he was moving quickly through the terrain, which law enforcement tracked for 21 miles into the high desert before the trail was lost.

The investigation has stumped detectives with more than 100 years of combined experience in missing person cases. And if they are unable to locate Clune on Saturday, the investigation will move from a “search and rescue” effort to a “recovery” mission.

The day of the disappearance

At 6:23 a.m. on April 27, Clune was seen on video surveillance footage leaving a hotel room alone from the high desert town of Wells, Nevada, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The population of Wells is just over 1,000 people, but it’s the crossing point between two major highways; the east-to-west Interstate 80, and U.S. Route 93, which travels north-to-south. That Wednesday morning, Clune drove his 2007 red Nissan Frontier south along U.S. Route 93.

Shortly after 8 a.m., Clune stopped near Currie, which is considered a ghost town with a population of just 20 people.

The town sits about 5,000-feet above sea level, and the mountains that surround the west side of U.S. Route 93 climb more than 8,000 feet into the eastern Nevada sky. The weather was fair. The temperature was a chilly 44 degrees when Clune stopped there.

It remains unclear why he pulled over onto the shoulder of the road, Ames said. And without criminal suspicion in the case, authorities say they are unable to break into the vehicle to look for clues.

Without keys to start the car or open the doors, it is not known if his truck ran out of gas or broke down, Ames said. Authorities have asked Clune’s mother for a set of spare keys, but have yet to receive them.

Temperatures in the high desert of northeast Nevada regularly plunge to 20 degrees at night. Clune is believed to have had a black Northface jacket and black, high-top sneakers, according to Ames.

At 8:50 a.m., a Nevada Highway Patrol officer discovered Clune’s truck on the side of the highway but did not see the shaggy headed, 125-pound 19-year-old Sonoma resident.

As the investigation continued, authorities learned that Clune ran from his vehicle and headed into nearby hills. Law enforcement officials are still piecing together why.

“The tracks showed he ran away and crawled through bushes,” Ames said.

Clune took only his phone from his vehicle, leaving behind his wallet, a knife and the rest of his belongings, which officers could see through the windows.

Gusts of wind up to 31 mph began to buffer the area that afternoon and by 7 p.m. the temperature began to drop. That night’s low was 40 degrees.

At 8:07 p.m., the last “ping” from Clune’s cell phone showed his location southwest of where his vehicle was abandoned, Ames wrote in an email to the Index-Tribune. Citing Clune’s mother, Ames said Clune’s phone showed his last Google search was for spark plug replacement.

The search for Clune will continue this Saturday, which will mark the 17th day the Sonoma Valley teenager has been missing.

“I’ve spent my whole career helping people in these situations,” Ames said about people being stranded on the highway. “We believe there’s a reason he took off into the desert, we just don’t know why.”

Contact Chase Hunter at chase.hunter@sonomanews.com and follow @Chase_HunterB on Twitter.

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