Search for Ontario man missing in Australia enters 3rd day

The search for a 25-year-old Canadian man missing in Australia's Snowy Mountains for more than a week goes into a third day today.

Prabhdeep Srawn, of Brampton, is a Canadian Forces reservist with survival training

Prabhdeep Srawn, 25, a former Canadian Forces Reservist from Brampton, Ont., has been missing since May 13 in Australia's Snowy Mountains.

By Reuters

The search for a Canadian man missing in Australia's Snowy Mountains for more than a week went into a third day on Wednesday.

Prabhdeep Srawn, 25, of Brampton, Ont., hasn't been heard from since parking his rental car on May 13 in the village of Charlotte Pass in Kosciuszko National Park.

The car was found on May 13 on the slopes of Mount Kosciuszko, and police believe he got lost in the freezing conditions.

"He drove to Charlotte Pass ski resort where he left his vehicle," New South Wales Police Insp. Peter Rooney said Tuesday.

"The information we have at the moment is that he was going to walk to Kosciuszko National Park. We are not sure when he left Charlotte Pass to do that.

"He was last seen, confirmed sighting of him, was at six o'clock on Monday. We haven't seen him since."

More than 20 people are involved in the search-and-rescue operation, using skidoos and two helicopters, police said.

On Wednesday search teams reported hearing shouts on the mountainside, raising hopes the former soldier has survived the cold, local media reported.

Canadian Forces reservist

Two helicopters were involved in the search on Wednesday, using thermal imaging technology.

For the past two years, Srawn has been a law student at Bond University in the town of Robina, a suburb on the Gold Coast in the state of Queensland.

He is also a Canadian Forces reservist and former Australian military reservist and has had extensive survival training, his cousin Tej Sahota told The Canadian Press.

"He's an armed forces member in the Canadian army," Sahota said from his medical practice in Cleveland, Ohio.

"So he's been through cold-weather training where he would have had a high survival instinct."

"We believe with that … his chances of survival are a bit higher than a normal hiker."

Srawn is also considered an avid bushwalker, a term used to describe a wilderness hiker in Australia and has also hiked in mountainous regions of New Zealand.

Social media used

Srawn's father, mother and cousin arrived in Australia on Tuesday to aid in the search being conducted by Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service officers, police and State Emergency Service volunteers.

Other family members and friends have also posted messages on social media websites hoping to glean any information they can about Srawn's whereabouts.

By late Tuesday, nearly 1,600 people had joined a Facebook page where the latest information is being posted. A couple of notes on the page, however, urged friends not to call police in Australia, who have been inundated with inquiries for the latest word on the search.

The search for Srawn only kicked into high gear on Saturday, said Sahota, who expressed hope that search and rescue teams in Australia wouldn't easily give up because of harsh weather.

The hiking route Srawn is believed to have taken is considered an easy walk in good weather.

Snow hampers search

But it can quickly become very treacherous in bad weather, which was the case Monday, when snow prevented rescuers from conducting a ground search.

Temperatures in the area have hovered close to zero for the last week, with the first snow of the season covering trails in recent days.

Forecasters were predicting nearly two cm of snow and temperatures falling to –3 C by early Wednesday.

"They may continue the search today, depending on the weather, but they may also suspend it," said Sahota.

Should the search be suspended completely, the family said it would ask the Canadian government to pressure Australian officials to send in the military.

Canadian consular officials in Sydney have been in contact with the family to offer their assistance.


  • An earlier version of this story stated Bond University was in Brisbane. It is actually in the town of Robina, a suburb on the Gold Coast in the state of Queensland.
    May 22, 2013 6:45 PM ET

With files from The Canadian Press