PITTSBURGH – A University of Pittsburgh student last seen in April was found apparently living among homeless people in Montana, authorities said.
When a ranger at Glacier National Park came across several people Thursday and asked for their identification, one of them was Pranesh Patel, said Pittsburgh police Lt. Daniel Herrmann.
The ranger ran Patel's name through the National Crime Information Center and was alerted to a missing persons report filed May 2 by Patel's brother. The ranger alerted Pittsburgh police, who notified Patel's family, Herrmann told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Patel was spotted again at the park Friday, according to his brother, Tarak Patel. Family members planned to fly to Montana to try to locate him, according to his brother.
Pranesh Patel, 23, of Sicklerville, N.J., was not detained by authorities because he hadn't committed any crime.
"We are glad that he's OK," said Tarak Patel, adding that his brother has no ties to Montana. "It's been rough not knowing where he is and wondering if he's OK or needs help."
Patel was last seen April 24 when he left the home he shared with two others to take an electrical engineering final exam, for which he never showed up, his roommate John Vroom said.
Vroom has said Patel was failing most of his classes and was upset because a final exam project he was building had been stolen. Patel was afraid to tell his family he might not graduate, Vroom said.
Patel remains "a student in good standing," university spokesman John Fedele said.
Four days before he disappeared, Patel withdrew several hundred dollars from a teller machine at a store in McKeesport, about 15 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
After Patel disappeared, he was spotted in Washington, Pa., about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, asking for directions to Interstate 79, Herrmann said. Patel's driver's license was suspended after an arrest in December on drunken-driving charges, police said.
Authorities don't know how Patel got to Montana or if he intends to return.
"Legally, he's an adult and has a right to go anywhere he wants to," Herrmann said.
Glacier National Park officials declined comment to the newspaper. Messages left at the park ranger's office Saturday by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.