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Missing Irish hiker 'may have left California trail to avoid snowy conditions'

25-year-old David O’Sullivan set off to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in March.

missing12 Source: Murrieta Police Department

POLICE IN CALIFORNIA say a missing Irish hiker who began a planned five month trip earlier this year may have left the trail to avoid wintry conditions.

25-year-old David O’Sullivan, from Midleton in Cork, began hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in March. He sent an email to his parents from the small mountain town of Idyllwild on 7 April, but his family say they haven’t had any word from him since then.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Detective Sean Lawlor of the Murrieta Police Department said that David had left Ireland with hiking gear, a non-smart phone and a tablet.

He had no international data plan, the detective said – so had been relying on local wifi spots to get on the internet and contact his family.

He had arrived in Compo close to the Mexican border and started the trail from there on 22 March, Lawlor said.

He had been due to meet a friend in Santa Barbara in early May, but did not show up.

Lawlor, who has been liaising with the O’Sullivan family, said there were snowy conditions along the trail back in March and April.

Based on his conversations with family members, he said that David was not an expert hiker and had told his family he was intent on avoiding deep snow and ice.

Said Lawlor:

Based on conditions he may have went off the trail [to] try and skirt around the Sierras, and could be further up north on the trail.

12 The Pacific Crest Trail Source: US Forest Service

There had been no recent banking activity on David’s account, Lawlor said.

He said local police had teamed up with Interpol and David’s Irish phone company to ping his phone, but learned the device had been shut off on the day David started the trail back in March.

Leaflets appealing for information on David have been handed out to search and rescue crews and other agencies working in the area. Lawlor said police were appealing to anyone with information to come forward.

Murrieta Police Department can be contacted here.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin yesterday tweeted his concern about David’s disappearance. The Cork man is a member of the party’s UCC branch.

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

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