A 14-year-old Utah boy who wandered out of Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif. on Oct. 19 was found in a West Hollywood gay bar unharmed. Cameron James Smith was found outside The Abbey, an iconic gay bar.
Cameron’s parents took him to the airport and helped him board the plane, according to local news reports. The jet pulled from the gate, but had to return and all the passengers, including Cameron, got off the plane.
Surveillance video shows Cameron leaving the airport and boarding an airport shuttle and getting off at a nearby intersection. He borrowed money to take a bus to West Hollywood, according to KTLA TV News.
Although it appeared to be unintentional at first, it is possible Cameron was attempting to run away.
“He did not want to go back to the school he was at, and this was an opportunity for him,” Burbank police Sgt. Darin Ryburn told KTLA. Police searched for the boy for about six hours before he was found. Cameron was trying to order a vodka and orange juice from The Abbey manager Nick Lambert, who recognized the missing teen from local news reports and called the police.
The founder of The Abbey, David Cooley, said he hopes that Cameron knows he is supported and loved by the gay community in Los Angeles.
“This brave young man was in the process of being returned to the state of Utah where being gay is not tolerated. Cameron obviously fled to the Abbey because it’s renowned for being a safe haven for members of the gay community and my heart pours out to him during this difficult time in his life,” Cooley said in a statement. “I hope Cameron knows he has a family here and that he touched our lives in a very powerful way today.”
Cameron was flying alone and his parents did not pay the $100 fee to have him accompanied by a member of the SkyWest flight team, as is required for minors.