Missing 21-year-old man found alive, in "very rough condition"
Christian Pugh was found deep in the brush along the hike and bike trail, an area not easy for those on the trail to spot just passing by. He was conscious and taken to the hospital.
A Connecticut woman who was last seen nearly two weeks ago hiking the Kumano Kodo trail in Japan has the U.S. State Department and the FBI helping in the search for her, her husband said.
Patricia “Pattie” Wu-Murad, 60, was reported missing by Japanese authorities on April 10 when she failed to arrive at the Taiyo-no-yu guesthouse hostel in Osaka as expected after her hike and the U.S. embassy notified her family on April 14 following a 72-hour search by a Japanese rescue team.
It’s “unbearably difficult,” her husband Kirk Murad told the New York Post on Friday.
Murad, who flew to Japan to help with the search, added that his family has also hired a private investigation team who told them that Japanese authorities still have more than two dozen people on the trail looking for her.
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Japanese authorities began searching for Pattie Wu-Murad after she went missing during a hike on the Kumano Kodo trail on April 10. (GoFundMe)
“Police have 30 people on the trail, helicopters, dogs … we know they have multiple teams out there for the next several days,” he said. “We have one goal: We want to get Pattie home alive.”
Wu-Murad is described as an experienced hiker who has done treks all over the world.
“We’re starting to get some more people to help. With multiple teams out there, we’re hopeful that something will come up in the next few days,” he said.
He added that their daughter Murphy is “running a major search-and-rescue operation” and has helped raise nearly $130,000 by Friday through crowdfunding to continue the search
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Murphy said in an update on the family’s GoFundMe that Japanese searchers had stopped searching on April 13 initially because they had no new leads but reopened it on Tuesday after “everyone’s efforts to push them to restart.”
“The police have told us their procedure is three days … after that, their expectation is families that lose loved ones … pay for it themselves. That’s why we hired [private company] Mountain Works as soon as we could,” Murad told the Post. “With support from the US Embassy and [Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal] and my daughter’s way of saying ‘Hey, this is my mom’ … they’re back out there.”
Blumenthal told FOX 62 this week he had spoken with her family and said he is “determined to seek every possible source of search and rescue to aid her.”
“I have contacted the State Department and the White House to assist and will continue helping the Murad family through every avenue available,” he told the station. “I am deeply concerned and am praying for Pattie’s safe return to her family.”
He added that he is also speaking to Apple in an attempt to retrieve data from her phone, which family members believe has a dead battery by now.
In her GoFundMe update, Murphy said that her mom had been using her dad’s Google Maps on her hike, and they gave permission to the CIA to access that data.
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“My wife is a very experienced hiker and there’s nothing in this particular hike that is extreme. It’s very wooded. It’s pretty steep,” Kirk told WVIT-TV this week. “There’s maybe two or three spots where she would stop to take a picture because she loves to stop and see the scenery. And in those spots, there were a couple of big drop-offs, but we’ve had those places searched and there’s no sign of her,” said Kirk Murad.
Wu-Murad’s husband said there’s nothing “extreme” about the Kumano Kodo trail. (Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images)
He added to the Post, “What our Mountain Works folks say is this is more an incident than an accident … meaning something strange happened. Meaning she went way off the trail, or she got caught up in a stream, or something.”
He said he even asked the Japanese authorities to open a criminal investigation on the worry that she could have been a victim of a crime.
Not that we have any suspects, but we just want to open all avenues because really, right now, she disappeared off the face of the earth. We don’t know how,” he added.