ACT News

Daughter of missing Canberra man Tahadesse Kahsai renews appeal for information

A breakdown in communication between the hospital and police meant it was 26 hours before a search began for a man who disappeared from a Canberra hospital, his daughter has revealed.

Rezina Kahsai with missing posters for her father, Tad Kahsai, who has been missing since December 30.
Rezina Kahsai with missing posters for her father, Tad Kahsai, who has been missing since December 30.  Photo: Rohan Thomson

It's been nine weeks since Canberra man Tahadesse "Tad" Kahsai, 61, walked out of Calvary Hospital where he was being treated for alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

In that time he hasn't touched his bank accounts or reached out to his family, and now his daughter Rezina Kahsai is looking for answers.

Tahadesse Kahsai is a former high school teacher and nightclub owner.
Tahadesse Kahsai is a former high school teacher and nightclub owner. Photo: Supplied

Ms Kahsai said medical staff thought her father was agitated, disoriented and possibly hallucinating the day he disappeared.

"He had been admitted there with the effects of alcohol withdrawals, unfortunately he had dealt with alcoholism for quite some time but he was successfully treated for it prior to his disappearance and had a relapse just before he disappeared," she said.

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"Whilst he was in the hospital he was treated well and was showing signs of positivity  but unfortunately at the time he did leave the hospital he wasn't in the best of states."

He is believed to have told a wardsman he was leaving and "not coming back" and as a voluntary patient could not be restrained. 

Tahadesse Kahsai pictured leaving the Calvary Hospital on December 30.
Tahadesse Kahsai pictured leaving the Calvary Hospital on December 30. Photo: ACT Policing

CCTV captured Mr Kahsai leaving the hospital, possibly with car keys in his hand. 

Hospital security later combed the grounds for him but he was gone without a trace. 

Ms Kahsai said an email from the hospital to the Australia Federal police "went astray", meaning it was 26 hours before a search was underway.

In that time, she said her father's doctor estimated he could have walked up to five kilometres in spite of his "poorly" condition.

Without his medication, he may have suffered a fit which could have caused him to fall and fatally knock his head, she said.  

Police used the dog squad, divers and a helicopter to search the two kilometres of bushland surrounding the hospital in late January but Ms Kahsai said now they had exhausted all of their leads.

She said the police effort locally and interstate was "thorough", but she believes someone out there must know something. 

"I'm urging anyone who may have seen my father near the Calvary Hospital or in the Civic and Belconnen areas to please come forward and assist us to try and solve this mystery," she said.

"There is a possibility he may have got a lift with someone or caught a bus ... we're trying to find answers, I'm just trying to find my dad."

Mr Kahsai emigrated to Canberra from war-torn Eritrea in the late 1970s. He graduated from Australian National University, became an Australian citizen and taught at a high school in Dickson.

Ms Kahsai said her father was well known in the Canberra community and always was looking for ways to "give back".

He worked with the Eritrean Embassy and also used to part-own and manage Club Asmara, which was in Bunda Street. 

"He's a fun-loving character. He's always been good company, he's always been quite active socially ... he's  quite a people person, always quite charismatic, and loves a good joke," she said. 

Ms Kahsai said his family weren't even aware he was in hospital as he had listed an old girlfriend as his next of kin.

She said her family was desperately seeking answers as to what happened to him.

"We don't understand how something like this could have happened, how he could have just vanished," she said.

Mr Kahsai is described as about 165 centimetres tall with a slim build and short grey hair, balding on top, and a grey beard.

He was wearing a blue and white shirt, blue jeans, sneakers and a blue cap when he was seen last on December 30.

Anyone who may have seen Mr Kahsai is urged to call police on 131 444.