Mother of missing teen Yuri Santana hopeful of a miracle
The mother of a South Canterbury teenager who has been missing for over a year still clings to the hope that a miracle will bring her boy home.
October 4 marked a year since Yuri Santana, 17, disappeared. He was last seen on Badham Rd, northeast of Temuka, an hour after being spotted at Rangitata Huts Rd, near the mouth of the Rangitata River.
His mother, Rosie Santana, said she still had hope.
"I believe he's still out there . . . it's like waiting for a miracle."
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Subsequent search and rescue efforts in the Rangitata River area failed to find any sign of the missing teenager.
Rosie and husband Joeliton hired a private investigator in January and a Givealittle page was set up to help pay for that work. It raised $660.
The family let the private investigator go in March as "nothing new had come up".
On October 4, police and community members had visited the family to share their condolences, Rosie said.
It was "a tough day but every day is a tough day". However through repeated prayers and tears, she remains resolute in her belief she will be reunited with her son.
"Yuri is a very strong boy, something is wrong. I'm not sure what or why but something or someone is stopping him from coming home."
She said it bothered her that she did not know what has happened to her son.
"Of course I am [bothered], I'm looking for answers, I feel desperate . . . I'm looking forward to the finish [for Yuri to come home] this has been such a long journey.
"I have my special place of praying in Yuri's bedroom . . . I pray every day, I cry every day, I know he will come home."
"When something like this happens you've lost control. It is out my hands. I am completely dependent on God. That's all I can do, trust in God.
"Wherever Yuri is, God is taking care of him and one day I will see him again."
Rosie said Yuri had suffered from depression in the past and had been on and off medication since 2015.
He had "started having trouble again before he went missing", Rosie said.
"He was such a nice boy, a lovely boy."
Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said the case was still open.
There had not been any confirmed sightings of Yuri for "quite some time". He said the police would refer missing persons cases to the coroner if nothing was found to suggest a missing person would be found.
"We've exhausted all avenues."
It was a terrible tragedy for any family to have no final resolution of what may have happened to a missing person, he said.
Historically, South Canterbury had had a lot of missing persons, many in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, out at sea and in the Mackenzie High Country lakes, Gaskin said.
Figures released to Stuff under the Official Information Act show that since 1960, there have been 55 missing persons cases reported to police.
Yuri is described as 1.82 metres tall, of medium build with dark hair.
He was last seen wearing light blue shorts and a light grey zip-up jacket with green stripes on the sleeves.