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Originally published March 15, 2010 at 10:23 AM | Page modified March 16, 2010 at 10:31 AM

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Silverdale mother and young son missing after van found in water near Olympia

Authorities are searching for a missing Silverdale, Kitsap County, woman and her 8-year-old son near Olympia.

Seattle Times staff reporters

A Silverdale, Kitsap County, woman and her 8-year-old son were missing, and the van they were driving on Saturday was found partially submerged in water Sunday near Olympia.

Shantina Smiley had planned to meet her fiancé, Robert Simmons, at her stepfather's house in Castle Rock, Cowlitz County, on Saturday but never arrived.

"I love this woman. I'm hoping she shows up safe and sound," said Simmons, who alerted authorities when Smiley, 29, and her son, Azriel James Carver, failed to show.

Smiley's bizarre disappearance was preceded by several sightings or contacts in which she was described as lost or disoriented, including an incident at Olympia's Martin Way Diner, where she bought food but did not take it with her, and then fell in the diner parking lot.

Smiley, who also goes by the name "Kat," had been driving her fiancé's gold Dodge minivan, which was found by a local resident in Budd Inlet, about 12 miles outside Olympia.

Thurston County chief criminal Deputy Jim Chamberlain said authorities had a boat in the water Sunday searching for the mother and son on the theory they had abandoned the van and were walking along the shore.

"We will have divers back out in Budd Inlet today (Tuesday) doing some more checking," he said. "We will be doing more background work and going over the van again to make sure we didn't miss anything. Unfortunately there's no new leads on what happened to them."

Robert Simmons said he, too, is mystified about what happened to Smiley.

"I have no idea. I'm being real positive, that's all I can do," Simmons said Tuesday. "None of this makes sense. I'm trying to take the whole thing apart, trying to run the numbers, but there's no way we can find that solution about what happened."

No one was found in the abandoned car. A wallet was inside, but Smiley's purse was gone. Chamberlain said if the woman and her son had packed an overnight bag for their trip, that luggage also was gone.

"Right now we don't know what happened ... " Chamberlain said. "We're hoping this will have a successful conclusion."

He said Smiley made several stops on Saturday, at two stores, a restaurant and a private home, and police are looking at store-surveillance videos.

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Simmons said Smiley called him about 6:45 p.m. to say her son was hungry, and she was going to stop for food. She told him she was stuck in traffic and was driving off Interstate 5.

He said Smiley stopped at the Martin Way Diner at about 9 p.m., purchased food and walked away without taking it.

Chamberlain said Smiley fell in the restaurant parking lot. When she stopped by a house to ask directions, those in the house said she appeared disoriented and indicated she'd hurt her knee, apparently in the fall. "She looked a little out of sorts," Chamberlain said.

Smiley called her grandfather about 10 p.m. from a house to say she was lost, but OK. She also said she'd been in an accident. Simmons said when he saw the van it had just a little damage to a bumper.

Smiley apparently took a wrong turn on a back road west of Olympia, Chamberlain said. She stopped to get directions, but apparently took another wrong turn.

He said she might have backed into the water while turning around and got the van stuck, but he doesn't know why she'd drive off a paved road to the beach.

Simmons said it appeared the van was backed into the water. The doors were open.

When Smiley didn't appear Saturday evening, Simmons drove to Olympia and alerted the State Patrol. He said he searched every piece of highway along the route she would have taken.

Simmons said he and Smiley plan to marry in September. He said she works for a Kitsap medical group; she's also a portrait photographer.

He described her as 5-foot-9, 145 pounds, with five tattoos, including a Roman symbol on the back of her neck and tattoos on each of her wrists. She was last seen wearing a red hooded sweat shirt and bluejeans, and wears glasses.

The boy is 4-foot-8 with a Mohawk haircut. He was last seen wearing a dark top.

Simmons posted information on the search on his Web site, www.robbsimmons.com. "The past 36 hours have been nerve-wracking, full of pain and sorrow," he wrote. "I just want my fiancée and Azriel back home. I want to marry her and spend the rest of my days by her side."

Lt. Chris Mealy, with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office, told The Associated Press that Smiley has no history of mental illness or any other problems.

Anyone with information on Smiley and her son should call the Thurston County Sheriff's Office at 360-786-5530 or 360-786-5500.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

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