Page last updated at 09:06 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 10:06 UK

Concern for missing autistic boy

Dartmoor Rescue Group
The search area includes woods at the edge of the River Taw

A major search is under way in Devon for a missing autistic teenager.

Police, dogs, divers and Dartmoor Rescue teams are looking for Richard Eckton, who was last seen in Eggesford, Chumleigh at 1830 BST on Saturday.

The 17-year-old, who has a mental age of three, carries a blue folder with pictures to help him communicate. His condition often draws him to water.

He is 5ft 10in, of slim build, with mousy short hair and blue eyes and was wearing blue jeans and white T-shirt.

Devon and Cornwall Police said Richard was walking along a footpath which follows the River Taw and the Tarka rail line when he ran away from his two carers into nearby woodland.

"Temperatures were quite low and he was only wearing a T-shirt, so we're very concerned, particularly with the location of the river nearby," Supt Sarah Sharpe told BBC News.

"He is very vulnerable and it's absolutely crucial we find him as soon as possible."

"He is absolutely no danger to the public."

Anyone who may have sighted the teenager or has any information is asked to contact police.

"Anybody approaching Richard should say his name - he'll find that reassuring, but avoiding eye contact will help because he'll be quite frightened," Supt Sharpe added.

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