'Family is sick with worry'
Published Saturday July 16th, 2011
A responsible, fun-loving guy who loves his family - that's how Fredericton resident Heather Brown describes her nephew David Brown, and that's why his disappearance is out of character.
Heather Brown, aunt of missing Halifax man David Brown, says she last saw her nephew at Christmas with other relatives in Fredericton. Heather Brown is seen clutching a family photo.
"When you say David's name, you just automatically smile because you think of him," she said.
"He's well liked and so well respected among the parachuting community. He's very laid back, and he was going through a separation, but he also had a girlfriend and the guys said everything was normal."
Like the rest of her family, Brown is wondering what happened to the 37-year-old internationally known skydiver from Halifax.
David vanished without a trace from his trailer on the Skydive Moab site in Moab, Utah, on June 29 with nothing but the shoes on his feet and the shirt on his back.
The two-week search hasn't yielded results, but the Moab Police Department told The Daily Gleaner it's still combing the desert looking for clues.
Brown said David's family, which is scattered across the Maritimes with several aunts and uncles living in New Brunswick, appreciates the work the police department has been doing.
"This is just not like him at all," she said.
"Even if he was going to go somewhere, it's not like him not to say well, 'I'm heading to Canada to see my relatives for a week or two, I'll be back whenever.' He was always good that way. So for him to just disappear off the face of the earth doesn't make sense.
"It's like he was picked up out of the sky by aliens. The whole thing is just so strange."
David's wallet, cellphone, a backpack filled with cash and all his personal identification papers were left behind at the motor home he was living in behind the residence of his boss and friend, Clint MacBeth.
MacBeth, who hails from Moncton and opened Skydive Moab in November 2003, was one of the last people to see David before he disappeared.
Although MacBeth wasn't available for an interview with The Daily Gleaner, he told the Desert News in Utah he's been friends with David since 1999 and most people considered him the "life of the party."
"When he worked here, he was amazing with the students," MacBeth told the Desert News.
"He loved the sport of skydiving. He was really genuine. He loved his job. He loved the people. He's a world champion. He's had 13,000-plus skydives in his life."
Family said David had been living in the United States for the last 10 years. He arrived at Skydive Moab eight months ago, and intended to stay until November.
MacBeth told the Utah paper his friend's disappearance has hit him hard.
"I feel hopeless sometimes. He was outside my house and there's not really that many places he could go. I don't have a clue where he's at."
But while the search has been hard on David's friends at the Utah drop zone and his family, Brown said it's been especially hard on David's sister, Wendi TeKamp.
TeKamp has been busy handling media requests while helping with the search since her brother disappeared. Brown said TeKamp just returned to Halifax last week with David's things, unsure what to do with them at this point.
"She's been doing so-so but it's been difficult for her for sure because they were very close," she said.
In an interview with The Daily Gleaner on Thursday night, TeKamp said while she's been overwhelmed by the outpouring of resources from the skydiving community and the Moab police throughout the search, the last two weeks have been difficult.
Although his disappearance has left everyone confused, she said the strangest thing has been the way he's vanished from the social networking sites he frequented.
"He's on Facebook, he's got a few websites, he's got his email account, the whole gamut of online and that all came to a stop on June 29, just shy of noon MST (Mountain Standard Time)," she said.
"It's been surreal. It's been terrible. It's incredibly tragic but yet I'm back in Halifax now and we just continue to remain hopeful that positive news is just around the corner for us.
"We just want to see him out doing what he loves to do and what he excels at and that's jumping out of a plane, as strange as that sounds."
But while the family has been doing what it can to remain positive, Brown said it's difficult because of the number of unknowns in the story and the harsh climate it's being played out in.
"The desert is so grueling and unkind," she said.
"His family is sick with worry and we all love him. We all just want to know that he's OK."