By ALEXANDER WILLIS
Spring Hill resident Cassara Regenold, her husband William, and their six children have been searching nonstop since Friday for their 15-year-old son Dylan, after he ran away from the Volunteer Youth Academy in Gallatin, a youth facility for male teenagers.
Dylan has been reported missing since last Friday, with surveillance footage revealing that he had used bed sheets to escape out of a second-story window at the youth facility.
What makes the situation all the more difficult, Cassara says, is that the academy had not followed its own protocol, which requires staff to check on all patients every 15 minutes. The Gallatin police have discovered that there had been no logs on Dylan’s condition from facility staff after 4 p.m. on Thursday, with the surveillance footage showing that Dylan had left the facility at 1:30 a.m. on Friday.
“It was a mess,” Cassara said. “We were at a significant disadvantage of being able to find him through the police because it was reported so much longer after he’d been missing. Had they been checking on him every 15 minutes, they would have known much sooner after he left, and [he would] not have had such a long time to disappear.”
Cassara said they received a call from the youth facility early Friday morning regarding her son’s disappearance, where she immediately drove up to Gallatin as fast as she could. Since that day, Cassara and her family have been working nonstop to find their son, doing everything within their power to spread the word across Middle Tennessee.
“We’ve been out everywhere we can think of,” Cassara said. “We’ve gone to downtown Nashville, walked the streets multiple times and handed out flyers, we’ve walked the streets of Gallatin where he went missing from and handed out flyers, we’ve shared on social media, and I’ve tried to get his face out that way… we just want to find him.”
Cassara said that she had contacted the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and has also secured the aid of a private investigator, but is still waiting on any leads on where her son could be.
When asked if there was anything she would like to say to Dylan if she could, Cassara simply said “that we love him,” fighting back tears, “and we just want to know that he’s safe.”
While Cassara describes Dylan as “funny, very outgoing, strong [and] resilient,” she noted that he has struggled with mental health issues for years, which was what caused for his family to seek treatment in the first place.
“Dylan has just struggled for years with mental illness,” Cassara said. “It became obvious to us that we did not have the proper tools in our home to help him, and to maintain a healthy environment for our other children in our home.”
When contacted about the incident, Volunteer Youth Academy’s executive director Kevilynn Gatson wrote the following in a statement sent via email.
“The safety and well-being of our residents is Volunteer’s top priority, unfortunately residents will on occasion put themselves in harm’s way by running away,” Gatson wrote. “We are investigating how the young man escaped the supervision of the staff on duty and will take necessary actions pending the results of our investigation. We will continue to work closely with authorities and the family.”
Staff at the Volunteer Youth Academy did not comment further as to why protocol was not followed, or on whether any actions were taken against staff working at the time of the incident.
Dylan Ray Regenold is 6’2, approximately 200 pounds with brown hair and green eyes, and was last seen in Gallatin at 1:30 a.m. on December 14. Those with any information on his whereabouts are asked to contact Cassara at (931) 200-2743, or contact the Gallatin Police Department at (615) 452-1313.