The search for an Ontario man missing in a mountainous region of Australia is about to get a big boost from his military comrades, his family says.
Ten members of the Canadian Armed Forces are taking it upon themselves to head to Australia to search for Prabhdeep Srawn, who disappeared May 13 during a bushwalk in the Snowy Mountains southwest of the capital Canberra. The soldiers are not going in any official capacity with the Canadian Forces.
Peter Hadfield, a freelance journalist in Sydney, Australia told the CBC, that the soldiers plan to go out into the search area for about two weeks. He said, "they are arriving here on Sunday and they're going straight up to the search area. They're carrying with them camping equipment, cold weather equipment."
Tej Sahota, whose wife is Srawn's cousin, tweeted early Thursday that a number of the soldiers toured in the mountain regions of Afghanistan and have extensive experience.
The family is offering $100,000 to anyone who "rescues or recovers him" — but the soldiers want no part of the reward, Sahota says.
"They're going to bring back one of their own, and they were clear that for this, they wouldn't accept any payment," he said, adding that with the exception of one or two of them, none of the men had ever met Srawn.
The official search for the 25-year-old, who was a military reservist in Hamilton before moving to Australia, finished almost two weeks ago. His family moved to Brampton shortly after he moved.
Officials have said the chances of finding Srawn alive have decreased but his family has said it won't give up its efforts. They have repeatedly slammed efforts to find the missing man by Australian authorities.
'Infuriating, shocking and intolerable'
Srawn's cousin, Ruby Singh-Sahota met with members of the Australian High Commission to Canada on Wednesday.
"We have been greatly and deeply affected by our inability to see Prabh, to embrace him, to understand what has happened and how exactly to help him," Singh-Sahota said in a letter to the commission.
"And while this has caused us to ache and yearn for him, little has been as infuriating, shocking and intolerable as the number of painfully inefficient and inexcusably time consuming administrative hurdles we have encountered in trying to secure proper permissions to facilitate the private search."
Shortly after the meeting, Singh-Sahota tweeted that there had been "no commitment" from the high commission to help the family. She says she was told search teams don't usually search this long and the family was "acting out of desperation."
Srawn went missing just over a month ago. The Australian High Commission to Canada did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
'Cold-weather training' offers hope
Srawn's family and supporters still believe he could be found alive because he had extensive survivor training and hiking experience, Sahota told CBC News in an interview earlier this week, before the reward had been doubled.
Srawn was a Canadian Forces reservist from 2005 to 2011, belonging to the 31 Service Battalion's Hamilton Company. Sahota told CBC Hamilton that Srawn had risen to the rank of master corporal and was responsible for his own unit.
That unit did forced marches and cold weather training in northern Ontario, Sahota said.
"They would do sustained cold weather training, with like two or three weeks of being in the middle of the forest with minimal equipment as part of their training. His report indicates that he did all of that with flying colours," he said.
The unit would often train in temperatures as low as –25 C, Sahota added.