12/21/2014

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Still no sign of missing Yakima doctor in Ukraine

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The search for a missing Yakima man in Ukraine hit a roadblock Friday. Searchers finished combing through a Kiev park where they thought Dr. Jay Sloop could be. But there was no sign of him.

Relatives said in their latest blog post that more people joined the search.

They said Sloop made an ATM transaction shortly after he left for a walk in Kiev Tuesday. He hasn't been seen since that day.

Here's their latest blog entry:

The day is basically spent now, and we still have not found Jay.

Again, my information on what has happened and what the plans are is incomplete – but I’ll still try to give my best review of what we know, what’s happened and what is planned. [This is a longish post.]

First, let me address some topics I’ve seen tossed around, with a lot of bad / wrong / misunderstood information mixed in.

1) We are not aware of any coerced ATM or other bank transactions. Yes, he did make an ATM withdrawal shortly after he left for his walk Tuesday morning. It was for a very moderate amount of money, and the camera footage of him making the withdrawal does not show anyone with him. It doesn’t appear to show him in any distress or being coerced

No bank transactions have been attempted, related to Jay, since he disappeared

2) We are not aware of any possibility that he was kidnapped or otherwise taken by anyone. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, but there certainly isn’t any evidence, I’m aware of, that he was.

3) The US embassy staff and US State Department have been very helpful and are working with us and the people in-country to do the most they can. We’re impressed.

4) The Ukrainian Union and officials, as well as many private individuals HAVE been helping, and doing a lot. However, there is always misunderstandings and the knowledge between parties isn’t perfect. We’re very grateful for the assistance we’ve received and we know that each person and group is doing as much and as well as they can.

Again, misunderstandings do occur. Here’s an example.
On Thursday, we had intended to search the park, using a grid search. [You break the area to be searched into smaller blocks and have a group of people search each block, every section carefully. You repeat this for the whole space you are interested in searching.]

As the day progressed, we were discouraged since no-one showed up to help Jeff and Ron search. As we inquired at the end of the day – we were told that a lot of students DID show up. But we were really confused – because we hadn’t seen them.

Well, with some wonderful help [Thanks Natasha I. and Marina K-G.] communicating with the people in Ukraine we found out the following: The students and others did come on Thursday. Since they [or someone] felt the park was searched on Tues and Wed, they decided to hand out flyers and make contacts around the Union office and locales. While this probably isn’t what we would have had them doing had we known – it’s not like no-one was volunteering to help. So through misunderstanding and language barriers, the efforts were not coordinated. But everyone was doing what they thought best and all working hard.

So, there’s no criticism for the hearts of the people. They’re doing their best, just like we are. Sometimes it’s not what we’d pick, and I’m sure they have felt the same way about our choices. But we all do our best.


However, Friday has been a far different picture. We have some additional resources that came in overnight Thursday night, and those people have been extremely helpful in making the search more organized and more effective. Nothing changed in the willingness to help, just the effectiveness and organization got a lot better.


So, to recap today’s outcome:

The search of the park is done, and we found no sign of Jay. It’s hard to think there’s any possibility he’s laying out there in the park somewhere and we missed him – the entire park was searched very thoroughly.

This takes away what we considered as the most probable situation – that Jay had suffered a fall, or other catastrophic health problem, was assaulted or something similar, and was lying out in the thick growth somewhere in the park.

But given the results [or lack of results] from the search, we feel like we must assume he’s not laying in the park somewhere.

This leaves us with a lot of questions:
If he’s not laying in the park, where is he? What other things should we do to continue to search in the most productive way?
What to try next?

The answers to those questions are ones that we and the experts are considering now and working to formulate a plan for tomorrow.

I know we’ll be talking to people who regularly visit the park, tomorrow. We’ll ask them what they recall about last Tuesday and if they might have seen Jay in any particular portion of the park, or if he was interacting with anyone etc.

We haven’t had an update from the expert on-site who is coordinating and directing the search since the end of the day Friday, so we don’t have much more in the way of a “plan” for tomorrow. I’m sure there IS a plan, we’re just not quite aware of it yet.

As always, being thousands of miles away is hard. We always want more information than we have, and we are tempted to believe that we know better, or have things in mind that haven’t been tried. Occasionally that’s true – but most often it’s not.

I think we must be as “patient” as possible and work with the very kind, helpful and wonderful people who have come to our aid in finding Jay. We will continue to ask for God’s protection and care for all involved and ask that this saga ends well.

I hope to have more detailed information as time goes on and a more clear view of where we go from here. But at the moment, it’s time to re-group and gather some more ideas and information to see what makes the most sense to do next. When I know that, and can share, I will.

Thanks again to all those expressing their care, and sympathy. You’re awesome.

Lots of thanks to all the wonderful people of the Union office, and the volunteers in Ukraine who have taken days of their lives to come and search for, as Jay is called – “the grandfather with the red suspenders.”

Personal thanks to Marina and Natasha [And Shaundi who got me in touch with them.] They have been awesome and funny, and great to work with. Thanks, so very much! There would be a lot more unresolved misunderstandings without you!

We will give more as we know it.

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