Fitness Instructors Reunite Missing Teen with Family - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Fitness Instructors Reunite Missing Teen with Family

By: Julia Deng
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Rodrigo Rojas, 18, was reported missing Friday morning after he disappeared while taking out the trash.

Odessa Police issued an urgent message to the community, asking people to report any possible sightings of the teenager, who has Down's syndrome and lives with his family near Odessa College.

He was located Friday afternoon at the Odessa College Sports Center and reunited with his sister.

"When she got out of her car [and was] walking over here, [she breathed] a big of relief and we were crying," said Celina Brito, the OC fitness instructor who watched Rojas for hours and alerted campus police he had wandered into their gym.

"[The reunion] made me teary eyed," said Esther Avila, a fellow fitness instructor who helped Brito identify and return the teenager.

Rojas reportedly walked into the Sports Center and joined the basketball team warming up on the court.

Brito and Avila, who were working at the concession stand, initially thought he was part of the team.

"But a couple of hours had gone by and we realized something wasn't right," Brito told NewsWest 9.

Rojas wandered into the concession area to ask her for popcorn and was "acting restless."

She said she did her best to calm him.

She and Avila offered him snacks and juice, and led him to a couch where he could watch TV while they tried to figure out where he belonged.

"We knew he was scared," said Brito.

"He was comfortable, but we could tell he was having trouble telling us where he came from because I don't think he really knew where he was coming from."

They eventually called campus authorities, who alerted Odessa Police and were able to notify Rojas's sister of his whereabouts.

"He was actually kind of bummed to leave," said Brito.

"We told him he's more than welcome to come by [our concession stand] whenever he likes. But next time, it needs to be with his mom or sister."

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