US Student Who Vanished in France Is Alive in Spain

Family says he is 'safe,' and he may be home for Christmas
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2022 7:57 AM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2022 9:23 AM CST
US College Student Studying in France Goes Missing
Ken Deland.   (Deland family via ABC News)
UPDATE Dec 16, 2022 9:23 AM CST

A US college student reported missing in France is alive and in Spain, CNN reports. Ken (Kenny) DeLand Jr. was studying abroad at the University of Grenoble Alpes when he fell out of touch with family members for two weeks. He was reported missing Nov. 29 and was traced to a store in Montelimar on Dec. 3, but no further. His host in France said she believed he left her home voluntarily. His father was speaking to CNN by phone Friday when he suddenly hung up. Ken DeLand Sr. later told the outlet that he'd spoken with his son: "He is alive—that's all I can say." The family subsequently issued a statement: “We are so happy to announce that Kenny is safe,” it reads. “Kenny is in Spain, and Carol (his mom) is in France, preparing to see Kenny and hopefully bring him home for Christmas.” No further details were released about what happened.

Dec 12, 2022 7:57 AM CST

A New York mom and dad are pleading with the public for any leads on their 22-year-old son, who's gone missing while studying overseas in France. Although Ken DeLand, a student at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, NY, was usually in "constant communication" with his parents back in the States while attending the University of Grenoble Alpes in Grenoble, that contact ended last month. Per a website set up by the family, they say they last heard from DeLand on Nov. 27 via WhatsApp, and that after that, he left the home of his host family to catch a train to Valence, a city about an hour away from the school.

That WhatsApp chat was the last they heard from DeLand, which is out of character for the him. "He would reach out to me almost daily, sometimes every other day," his dad, Kenneth DeLand Sr., tells ABC News. DeLand Jr.'s phone was said to have been pinged on Nov. 30, and on the morning of Dec. 3, surveillance cameras caught a person who appeared to be him entering a sporting goods store in Montelimar, about 45 minutes south of Valence. According to statements from the younger DeLand's bank, he made a purchase at that store for just under $9.

That was the last known sighting of the college senior, who was wearing a red jacket, gray beanie, scarf, blue jeans, and sneakers and carrying a black backpack. "This can't be possible," his mother, Carol Laws, tells ABC7. "How did he go missing? What happened?" Authorities in France, where a missing persons report has been filed, say DeLand Jr.'s disappearance is "worrying," but they're not saying much else due to privacy laws, as the student is an adult. DeLand, whose visa expires in January, had been set to return home to New York this week, per WHEC. Anyone with any information should call St. John Fisher University's security team at (585) 385-8025 or fill out the tip form on the family's website. (Read more missing student stories.)

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