ACT News


Missing reservist's family vow to continue search

The family of a Canadian hiker who has been missing near Mount Kosciuszko for more than two weeks will hire helicopters, a canine team and private search parties to continue looking for the man after police scale down rescue efforts on Friday.

Bond University student and former Canadian army reservist Prabhdeep Srawn, 25, has been missing since May 13, when he parked his vehicle at Charlotte Pass and walked into Kosciuszko National Park.

Police have been searching the area since May 20, but said efforts would be significantly wound down from Thursday night as conditions deteriorate and the chance of finding Mr Srawn alive decreased. Mr Srawn's family, who have been staying in Jindabyne since arriving in Australia a week ago, said they were extremely disappointed with the co-ordination of the search but they still believed he would be found alive.

His sister Mandeep Srawn and cousin Rajveer Srawn told Fairfax Media on Wednesday that they, and a number of friends from Canada, had spent the past week researching alternative search options.

On Wednesday they reissued a $15,000 reward for any volunteers who would join the search and find Mr Srawn but stipulated hikers must be experienced, must work in groups, register with authorities, and carry GPS systems and distress beacons.

They also said they had contacted helicopter charter services, canine search companies and private search companies, and had researched maps, and other hikers' accounts of walking through the area in preparation for beginning their own search once police pulled out.


''If the police do give up, it's going to be us out there next, we're going to have to make our own search plan. That's what we're working on now,'' Rajveer said.

''We've had a lot of people approach us: experts in the mountains, a reservist from Canada, reservists in the Australian army, that are willing to come, and on their own free will.

''They can't stop us. Anyone can go up there. The only thing is that we don't want to mess up their investigations whatsoever at all either. But if they do give up, we're not going to give up.''

Mandeep said they had also scoured through Prabhdeep's computer and found more than 30 pages of military lecture notes on ''winter warfare'' and survival techniques for extreme conditions.

''He's been lecturing how to survive in those conditions, so I highly doubt that he didn't know what to do when that [blizzard] hit him,'' she said.

Mandeep said her family and their supporters in Canada refused to believe Prabhdeep could not be found, and said the issue had been raised in Canada's Parliament.

Canadian New Democrat Party MP Helene Laverdiere used a speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday to demand action from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. ''Prabhdeep Srawn is a Canadian Forces reservist who has been missing for two weeks in Australia. When his family reached out for help, the government ignored them,'' Ms Laverdiere said.

''Mr Srawn has proudly served our country. Now, our country should be doing more for him.''

Police Inspector Peter Rooney, who has been co-ordinating search efforts from a command post in Jindabyne, said authorities had been working tirelessly to find the man, but poor weather would hamper continued search efforts.

''I'm confident that we're searching the right area based on the information we have,'' he said. ''Obviously as time goes by, the more concern we have.''