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Authorities found the vehicle of a missing Dugway soldier 64 miles southwest of the Army base's main gates Saturday night, giving hope to the man's family that he will be found.

Joseph Bushling, 26, borrowed a Mitsubishi Lancer and drove off Dugway Proving Ground on May 8. He left a message with a friend saying he had run out of gas on the west side of Granite Mountain, and no one has seen him since. Military authorities scoured the base and did not find him.

This weekend they found the vehicle abandoned, said his father, Kevin Bushling, from his home in Arkansas.

"His iPod and GPS were in the car, but the keys weren't in the car," Kevin Bushling said. "They said it had sort of slid off in a little ravine almost. They couldn't determine if there was gas in the tank because they didn't have the keys."

Any footprints leading away from the vehicle were washed away in recent rains, he said, and there was no sign of foul play.

Joseph Bushling was assigned to a medical clinic at Dugway. He was days away from going to Fort Carson, Colo., then to San Antonio for nursing training.

Kevin Bushling said his son has no history of mental illness, and he doesn't believe Joseph Bushling decided to desert. There has been no activity on his son's bank account or phone, he said.

Kevin Bushling said he will travel to Utah this week.

"We're really encouraged by this news," he said of the discovery of the car. "At least it's a start."

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