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Missing in a valley of death
Lake Oswego resident Suzie Reeb has launched a desperate search for her son, who disappeared while on a trek in India
A Lake Oswego woman is seeking to make connections around the world in an effort to find her son, who has been missing in India for the past six weeks.
Suzie Reeb told The Review on Friday that her son, 35-year-old Justin Alexander a highly skilled outdoorsman, mountaineer, survivalist and martial arts expert has been missing since Aug. 24 while on a trek in the Parvati Valley in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
Because of his work, Justin had a worldwide global network, Reeb says, and many of those friends including a young man whose life was saved by Alexander, Reeb says are now involved in a search-and-rescue effort. There are even a couple of celebrities involved: best-selling author Tom Brown and actress Kelly Carlson, who are preparing a segment for Fox News about Alexanders disappearance.
Reeb says her efforts to get help from the U.S. government have so far been highly disappointing. The U.S. Embassy has just brushed me off, she says. They were not very nice. They pushed me around.
Attempts by The Review to contact the U.S. State Department for comment have so far been unsuccessful, but police in India have confirmed that they are aware of Alexander's disappearance and "would conduct an inquiry to trace his whereabouts," according to The Tribune newspaper.
A search party of 15-20 people and seven police officers reportedly was dispatched on Oct. 5 to the area where Alexander was last seen, according to a GoFundMe account established to help pay for rescue efforts, and Reeb herself left for India on Monday to join in the effort.
Reeb says the last time she talked to her son was on Aug. 20, when he called from India to tell her about his journey in the Parvati Valley, which is located in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. He said he was accompanying a Hindu holy man on a spiritual pilgrimage. The journey, he told his mother, had proven to be full of hardships, including hunger and physical suffering.
He was done with this experience, Reeb says. He was leaving early. He hadnt eaten in days and his back was hurting. He was hiking back to his guest house.
The only other details about Alexanders experience have come from two trekkers he encountered Sept. 3 on the way back to his home base, where he kept a motorcycle and video equipment. The two men gave food to Alexander and said he told them he was only two or three days away from his lodgings.
After that, there has been no more word of Alexander, although Reeb did get a call from one of his friends in India on Sept. 30.
"She was really worried, Reeb said. She said she knew Justin wouldnt be gone that long. I told her, Lets get on it."
Since she began the effort to find her son, Reeb says she has learned many disturbing details that have only made her more concerned about his fate.
There have been 15 people who have gone missing in that valley since 1998, Reeb says, and they were all like Justin. They were all experienced and trained in survival. One was even a former soldier in the Israeli Army. Only last year, there was a Polish citizen (Bruno Muschalik) who went missing. None of them have been found, except the ones who are found dead.
That valley is beautiful and enchanting and its a big tourist attraction," she says. "But its very dangerous. Nefarious things happen there.
Mystery also continues to surround the Hindu holy man who shared the journey with Justin.
He changes his story every time (authorities) talk to him, Reeb says. I know something is wrong with my son.
While experiencing the agony of her son being missing, Reeb has largely gone sleepless as she keeps in constant contact with those searching for Alexander. But her willpower is extremely strong, she says, and she will not allow his case to be brushed aside by the U.S. government.
I want to make noise, Reeb says. I want people aware of this.
Still, Reeb says she is not feeling sorry for herself.
I just want him found," she says. "I want him safe. I dont want this to happen to anyone else.
For more information or to donate funds toward the search effort, go to bit.ly/2dC3sQ0.