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'I don't think he's alive, he wouldn't do this to us' - Cork mother of missing backpacker on the year-long search for her son

David O’Sullivan disappeared while navigating the Pacific Crest Trail in California in April 2017.

8 David O'Sullivan

THE MOTHER OF Cork man who has been missing in California for over a year has said that she no longer believes her son is alive.

25-year-old David O’Sullivan disappeared while navigating the Pacific Crest Trail, a 4,265 kilometre hiking route stretching over three states, which can take half a year to navigate.

Extensive searches for David have returned no trace. He has not been seen since leaving his hotel in the town of Idyllwild on 7 April 2017, just two weeks into the trek. That was the date of his last contact with his parents also, by email.

A fundraising page in order to help pay for the search for David has also been set up.

Speaking this morning to the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ radio from Midleton, David’s mother Carmel said that though she is not expecting good news regarding her son, she “has to know”.

“There isn’t a moment of my day where I’m not thinking where could he be, what happened to him,” she said.

We need to know how it happened. We need to find him. We really need to know what happened.


Asked whether or not she believes David is still alive, she replied: “No, I’m afraid I don’t.”

“He’s a year gone, there’s been no activity on his bank account, and he’s a very loyal child.”

Source: RTÉ Radio 1/SoundCloud

Knowing right from wrong was very important to him, and he wouldn’t do this to us.

She believes that David probably died as a result of hypothermia, or a fall.

He would not have expected to encounter snow on his trail at the time of year he began his hike, however Idyllwild did experience a snowfall within a day or so of his departure. David would have had no snow-gear with him, his mother believes.

‘Waiting for that call’

“He could have gone into a cave to get away from the cold, which makes it nearly impossible.”

There isn’t a night I sleep a full night and won’t say ‘where are you’. We haven’t had a Christmas, or birthdays. We put the presents money into the fund. I have to be ready and waiting for that call. But people are so kind when the chips are down.

A further search is planned for the end of this month, while Carmel will travel to California once more to be there. Searching is a costly business, with the hire of a helicopter for example costing $1,500 an hour.

“We’re just going to continue on our own,” she said.

About 30 people, and possibly more, will join San Diego’s Outreach for the latest two-day search.

“Trees are covering a lot of it. Deep, deep snow,” said Carmel.

But I have to keep going until I know.

If you wish to donate to the search for David, you can do so here

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