Search continues for missing autistic La Vista boy

(La Vista, NE) -- The search continued on Tuesday for a missing 11 year old La Vista boy.

La Vista Police say Ryan Larsen has high-functioning autism, has been known to hide and is non-verbal with people he doesn't know. Larsen was last seen at La Vista West Elementary around noon on Monday. He is described as white male, about 5 foot 8 inches tall, and has brown hair and hazel eyes. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing a black jacket, blue jeans, an Old Navy shirt and was carrying a polka-dot umbrella.

Tuesday’s search originally focused on the area near La Vista West Elementary, at 81st Street and Terry Drive, and Larsen’s home near 83rd and Parkview. La Vista Police then expanded the search area further east and north to include Seymour Smith Park and neighborhoods near Ralston.

Annette Eyman, the spokeswoman for Papillion-La Vista School District, sells WOWT 6 News that the school is older, under construction, and has a lot of exits. The doors of the school are locked on the outside to prevent people from coming in, but for safety reasons, they can’t be locked on the inside. “Ryan was in the middle of a transition from one room to another, we know he was seen in the hallway by a staff member heading towards his classroom,” Eyman said. “We believe there was probably less than a five-minute window before it was discovered that he wasn’t in the classroom.”

She said they’re not sure which door Ryan used to leave the school or if he left right away. “The building was searched high and low, multiple times by police, by all of the school staff. We really looked in the building to make sure he wasn’t still there. They searched the building again at 10 o’clock last night,” Eyman said.

La Vista Police Chief Robert Lausten tells 6 News that his department believes that Ryan is hiding. Lausten said they have “intelligence that may show us that he’s watched some videos on how to hide from the police.”

According to the police chief, the department has had incidents with Ryan before and that he’s a previous Project Livesaver client. “We know that he’s out there but now the time period has gone by so the elements are involved and he’s got to be hungry. We want to find him and bring him home,” Lausten said.

As of noon on Tuesday, Ryan has now been missing 24 hours. The chief said we are at the point where this is a life and death situation. “He’s been out overnight. The weather is an issue, but again he’s hungry and he has medication that he needs to take and so we just really need to find him,” Chief Lausten said.

Anyone with information about Ryan that could help, call La Vista Police at 402-331-1582 or 911.

(Photos by the La Vista Police Department)

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