Missing teen's family thankful he's alive & safe - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Missing teen's family thankful he's alive, safe & hopeful for healing

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The Hawkeye Community College student, living at UNI, who went missing Sunday has been found alive.

It's a happy ending to what started out as a scary mystery.  Rescue crews, family and friends came together Sunday and again Monday morning to try to locate 19-year-old Taylor Franco.  It was a bicyclist along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail who spotted Franco Monday morning, with the dog who followed him from the home he entered Sunday morning, thinking it was his own house. 

Family members are certainly relieved that he is alive and safe.  They say Taylor is doing well physically, with just minor injuries.  But recovering emotionally from this ordeal will take time.

"He seems okay.  There are definitely moments where he has to kind of think.  It's almost like he's coming out of a dream.  He has to think, 'Did that really happen?  Did I really do that?'"

Said Sarah Ford, Franco's sister-in-law.

For 19-year-old Taylor Franco, it may seem like what happened Sunday was a dream.  His family says what they went through while he was missing was a nightmare.  They're just grateful he's safe, after authorities spent hours searching for the teen, who wandered barefoot through the woods—six miles from La Porte City to Gilbertville, for more than a day. 

But now, the difficult task of piecing together why Franco ran off begins.

"It's a huge relief to know that he's okay and that we're going to be able to help him any way we can to get better if that's what we need to do," said Ford.

Several of Franco's friends and family members say the teen had been acting a bit differently the past couple weeks.  But until he went missing, they didn't know anything was seriously wrong.

"It'll take some time to get him back out there and have him comfortable being around people without being worried about what they think.   And at this point, I hope he doesn't care what people think.  It's just a matter of us getting back to where we were," Ford said.

The family says they'll be taking Franco back home to Davenport once he's released from the hospital, not letting him out of their sight and trying to help him heal. 

Franco's family is also thankful for the number of law enforcement agencies and volunteers that worked tirelessly to find Taylor and bring him to safety.

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