10 Mysterious Disappearances in National Parks


Prabhdeep Srawn, 2013

A summertime view of Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak. © Ashley Cooper/Corbis
A summertime view of Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak. © Ashley Cooper/Corbis

Prabhdeep Srawn was a 25-year-old Canadian army reservist who disappeared from Australia's Kosciuszko National Park, located in the southeastern state of New South Wales. Srawn was studying abroad in Australia in May 2013, when he decided to take a 1,700 mile (2,700 kilometer) road trip from the Gold Coast to Melbourne. Srawn rented a van, drove to the park's Charlotte Pass in the Snowy Mountains, and no one has seen him since [source: French].

The search for Srawn began when the rental company discovered that the van wasn't returned. Srawn hadn't told anyone what route or side hikes he was planning, and the search may have started days or even a week after he went missing, since it was the rental company that first reported the disappearance. Searchers figured out his hike plans by looking at the search history on a laptop they recovered from his van [source: Mcllroy].

Srawn's family hired private searchers after Australian authorities called off their search after only two weeks. The investigators used tower data from Srawn's phone and a trained dog to track his trail to a treacherous area called the Western Fall Wilderness [source: French]. Just one day before his van was due back to the rental agency, Srawn embarked on a difficult and time-consuming hike in snowy weather. Why would a trained military reservist make a choice like that? Despite a private search that went on for over a year, Srawn's body has never been recovered.

Author's Note: 10 Mysterious Disappearances in National Parks

My college roommate and I once went hiking on Kennesaw Mountain in North Georgia, and we managed to completely lose the trail. We were scrambling over rocks trying to find our way back to the trail and our car, and it was definitely creepy being two women lost and alone in the woods. As we rounded a bend, a man who said he lived on the mountain approached us. Luckily, he turned out to be just a helpful hiker, and he showed us a quick route back to the trailhead. We were maybe a mile from our car at most and had basically been hiking in circles. Before that happened, I might have thought it was crazy that someone could get lost so close to their campsite or fellow hikers, but I can tell you from that experience that the woods can be incredibly disorienting. If it weren't for the fellow that helped us, who knows how long my friend and I would have wandered on the mountain?

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