A Canadian hiker's family has changed the conditions for its $50,000 reward to find Prabhdeep Srawn, saying it can be claimed whether he's found alive or dead after he went missing on a bushwalk in Australia.
It's the first indication the family of Hamilton native Srawn, who has been missing since May 13, has acknowledged he may not have survived the bushwalk at Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales.
Members of his Brampton, Ont., family originally offered the $50,000 reward to anyone finding him alive. But they changed the terms to entice more people to look for the 25-year-old, his cousin, Tej Sahota, told CBC Hamilton.
“But we're still holding out hope that he's found alive,” Sahota said. “We just want people to get out there and find him.”
Both Canadian and Australian search parties are still roaming the thick brush of the park, looking for any sign of the missing military reservist. They are using drone helicopters to search the cliff face of the mountains.
Sahota says a specialist believes Srawn might be in a “very low metabolic state” and would only be making noise if searchers were very close by. The wooded areas are so dense that “you could be seven or eight feet [2.1 to 2.4 metres] behind the person in front of you and not see them anymore,” he said.
Monday will mark a month since Srawn went missing.
While the family is keeping as positive as possible, doubt is starting to creep in from time to time, Sahota says. He has been keeping as busy as possible with interviews and search efforts to push it out of his mind.
“You can't let that doubt set in,” Sahota said. “Faith is blind, and we're holding on with every last ounce.”
'Cold-weather training' offers hope
Srawn's family and supporters still believe he'll be found alive because he had extensive survivor training and hiking experience.
Srawn was a Canadian Forces reservist from 2005 to 2011, belonging to the 31 Service Battalion's Hamilton Company. Sahota told CBC Hamilton that Srawn had risen to the rank of master corporal and was responsible for his own unit.
That unit did forced marches and cold weather training in northern Ontario, he said.
“They would do sustained cold weather training, with like two or three weeks of being in the middle of the forest with minimal equipment as part of their training. His report indicates that he did all of that with flying colours,” he said.
The unit would often train in temperatures as low as –25 C, Sahota added.