Search continues in north Mexico for missing Mooresville teacher

MEXICO CITY — Officials in the northern Mexico state of Chihuahua say they are still searching for an American hiker missing since the end of October.

The state government said in a statement Monday that searchers checked cabins in the area surrounding the village of Urique and rappelled down into 900-foot deep ravines looking for 34-year-old Patrick Braxton-Andrew.

The Spanish teacher from North Carolina was last seen Oct. 28 by hotel staff in Urique.

The statement says this weekend's search effort focused on areas that are difficult to access, but found no signs of Braxton-Andrew.

Urique is a former mining village at the base of one of the many canyons that make up Mexico's Copper Canyon National Park.

Family in Mexico hoping to find answers for missing Mooresville teacher

The mother, father and brother of a missing backpacker are in Mexico working desperately to find a 34-year-old teacher from North Carolina who disappeared in late October.

Patrick Braxton-Andrew is a Davidson College graduate who currently teaches eighth-grade Spanish at Woodlawn School in Mooresville.

[Mexican officials expand search in Copper Canyon for missing Mooresville teacher]

Patrick's brother Kerry told Channel 9 the 34-year-old was last seen by a hotel employee in Urique, a remote town in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.

[LINK: Facebook page for missing teacher Patrick Braxton-Andrew]

"He left the hotel room with not much," Kerry said. "He never returned."

Kerry said Patrick flew to Chihuahua, Mexico, on Oct. 24., and then took the El Chepe Train, a well-known backpacker train, to Copper Canyon National Park.

Family members believe he then took a bus to Urique.

Kerry describes Patrick as a seasoned traveler who likes to get away from the "hustle and bustle" oF tourist hot spots when he journeys abroad.

"He loves going to smaller communities, especially in Latin America, and just talking with locals," Kerry said. "So, he can actually sit down next to a street vendor and spend a couple of hours talking to them about their life and their family."

After a few days of traveling alone, Patrick had planned to meet his brother on Oct. 30 for "Dia de los Muertos," a Mexican holiday to celebrate life and death.

Kerry began to worry when Patrick didn't show up as planned.

"He hadn't been answering my texts," Kerry said. "(On) Tuesday, he was supposed to meet me at a hotel in Mexico City. I actually arrived a few hours late, so he should have checked in."

When he couldn't get in touch with Patrick, Kerry said he called their parents.

Gary Andrew and Jean Braxton, Patrick's mother and father, were on an unrelated vacation together in Mexico when they got word that Patrick was missing.

"We were interested in seeing Mexico because of him," Jean said during a Skype interview with Channel 9.

Jean said her son has a passion for travel, and she said he's a responsible person.

"Patrick has traveled so extensively. He knows the language so well. He knows the culture," Jean said. "In some sort of way, you don't allow yourself to think about possible dangers because you felt so confident in him."

Patrick's father, Gary, said the family hopes media coverage will generate interest and support.

"Some leads -- that's what we're really hoping for," he said.

The family set up a Facebook page to update followers on the search efforts. The page has helped garner attention from Mexican and U.S. officials.

Sen. Thom Tillis tweeted about Patrick this week.

"My staff is actively working with the U.S. Department of State, and Mexican law enforcement are conducting an extensive search," Tillis wrote. "Please keep Patrick, his family and the communities of Mooresville and Davidson in your prayers."

The family said they've been pleased with the response from authorities in Mexico.

"They have been going out of their way," Gary said. "The people here have been so helpful and caring about us and Patrick."

Jean said support from locals has been helpful, too.

"The outpouring from Davidson alone has been overwhelming, and I want to say thank you for that," Jean said.

When asked if police suspect violence, family members said police have not presented evidence of foul play, but nothing has been ruled out.

"We're optimistic," Gary said. "We're going to find Patrick and bring him home."

Anyone with information is asked to call 980-689-0939 or email findpba@gmail.com.

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