Thursday 26 April 2018

Irish man (25) missing on California hiking route 'may have gone off trail to avoid heavy snow'

David O'Sullivan (25) last made contact with his family on April 7
David O'Sullivan (25) last made contact with his family on April 7

Cillian Sherlock

An Irish man missing from a hiking route in California "may have gone off the trail to to avoid heavy snow", according to a detective.

David O'Sullivan, a 25-year-old from Cork, has been missing since April 7 according to a circular issued by the Murietta Police Department.

Detective Sean Lawlor, who is originally from Belfast and now based in California, said he has been in touch with David’s father Colin and his brother Niall.

"The only hint that we’ve got is from Niall essentially saying that David is not a professional hiker, they consider him a novice," Detective Lawlor told RTÉ Radio One's Morning Ireland.

"So he had told them prior to leaving he was intent on avoiding deep snow and ice at all costs.

"Based on the conditions at the time he may have went off the trail and skirted around it," he added.

Murrieta Police Department is leading the search for missing Irishman David O'Sullivan
Murrieta Police Department is leading the search for missing Irishman David O'Sullivan

He said David started the hike on the American/Mexican border on March 22nd and reached Idyllwild in California on April 5th.

"They said David left Ireland on March 20th to hike the Pacific Crest trail from southern California to Canada.

"He had hiking gear, a non-smart phone, and tablet. He had no international plan, so he was relying on local Wi-Fi spots to contact his family," Detective Lawlor continued.

"On April 7th, David’s parents received an email from him detailing the hike thus far. That’s the last contact we received from David," he added.

David was due to meet up with a friend in Santa Barbara in early May but did not show up.

It was not expected that David would go more than three weeks without making contact.

Detective Lawlor said there was heavy snowfall and, depending on the area, it could be quite treacherous.

"There’s been no recent banking activity. We did contact Interpol Dublin and Interpol Washington and coordinated a joint effort. We were able to ping the phone.

"We did learn however that the phone had been shut off and no further activity from March 22nd," he said.

The police have been in contact with search and rescue teams who are also disseminating missing person fliers.

Detective Lawlor encouraged anyone who may have seen David on the trail to get in touch.

"We’re following up on any and all leads that we have, we’re soliciting any information or leads from the public – however insignificant it may seem," he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.

Anyone with information has been asked to contact the Murietta Police Department on 001 951 6963615.

According to a poster David has blue eyes, brown hair and is approximately 5'10 and wears glasses.

Additional reporting by PA

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