Monday, October 21, 2002

Missing Dayton basketball player found in Texas

DAYTON, Ohio - University of Dayton basketball player Sammy Smith, who was reported missing by his coach Friday, has been found safe in Texas, the school announced Sunday.

Smith told a police officer in Lake Worth, Texas that he was abducted at gunpoint Thursday from the parking lot outside his campus residence, university spokesman Doug Hauschild said.

Smith's father, Michael Smith, flew to Dallas-Fort Worth early Saturday and he and Sammy were driving home Sunday.

"The FBI is investigating an alleged abduction," Hauschild said. "It appears to be an isolated incident and not a threat to the University of Dayton community."

Dayton basketball coach Oliver Purnell reported Smith missing to campus security after he missed two practices.

"We've been very worried about Sammy," Purnell said. "We're relieved to learn that Sammy is fine and on his way home."

The FBI could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday.

Smith, 21, was last seen by his teammates at his campus apartment about 7:30 p.m. Thursday, about an hour after basketball practice.

His mother, Debby Smith, said her son spent Friday night in a motel at Lake Worth under protection of a law enforcement agency.

Smith said he escaped near Dallas by driving away when his abductor got out of the car to urinate beside the road.

"He said he drove as fast as he could to attract the police," Debby Smith said. "It took him 40 miles before he saw a policeman."

Police in Lake Worth turned the case over to the FBI because Smith crossed state lines.

Smith is scheduled to meet with FBI officials in Dayton on Monday.

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