SACO — As the search continues in Portland for a Saco man missing since early New Year’s Day, his family and friends are trying to hold on to hope that he is still alive.

James “Jim” Dyer, 23, who grew up in Old Orchard Beach and lives in Saco, was last seen leaving The Pearl nightclub in Portland’s Old Port around 1:45 a.m. Friday, and has not been heard from since.

“It’s getting tougher as the days pass,” said his mother, Amy Dyer, outside her Old Orchard Beach home Tuesday afternoon.

Saco Police are working with Portland Police on the case. Saco Police Chief Bradley Paul said Portland and state police dive teams will continue to search Casco Bay today.

Paul said there is no information to indicate Dyer is in the water, but authorities are conducting the search because of the close proximity of where he was last seen and where the vehicle that he was to ride home in was parked.

Police have reviewed 10 or more surveillance tapes that showed Dyer outside the nightclub, confirming reports from his friends, Paul said.

Meanwhile, Loranger Memorial and Jameson Elementary Schools in Old Orchard Beach are collecting money for the Dyer family. The funds will help pay for gas, food and other expenses as members of the family take time off from work during the search, said Loranger Assistant Principal George Shabo.

The schools will also hold a “jeans and hat day” on Friday, during which students who make a donation can wear hats, and teachers who make a donation can wear jeans.

All four of Amy Dyer’s children, including James, went through the Old Orchard Beach school system, said Shabo.

“They’re part of the Loranger family,” he said. “We’re very close here in Old Orchard Beach.”

Shabo, Loranger Memorial’s former band director, recalled Dyer playing trumpet and French horn, and said he also played football. He described him as “happy-go-lucky and gregarious,” funny and smart.

“The type of kid every teacher dreams of having,” he said.

Paul said police will continue to research leads from the public. Police are asking anyone with information to call the Saco Police Department at 284-4535.

Dyer is described as a 5 feet, 9-inch-tall Caucasian weighing about 190 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. He has facial hair, and both ears are pierced with wooden gauges.

Donations to the Dyer family can be made to Loranger Memorial School, 148 Saco Ave., Old Orchard Beach, ME, 04064. Attn: G. Shabo. Checks should be made out to Loranger Memorial School.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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