Family of hiker missing in German Alps calls on Canadian governments for help

The family of a Manitoba man who went missing while hiking in the German Alps wants the federal and provincial governments to help them search for him.

Jeff Freiheit’s family last heard from him on Aug. 2, shortly before he set out to hike a five-kilometre stretch of rugged trail just north of the Austrian border.

“The family is desperately trying to approach our government in getting aid to bring my brother home,” said Amanda Dezigne, Freiheit’s sister, during an interview with CBC Manitoba’s morning radio show Information Radio. “We just need more people and we need help and we need it now.”

The search is continuing with the help of a handful of dedicated volunteers. Dezigne says her mother and sister-in-law’s presence is motivating the searchers.

“If this was their child, they wouldn’t want anybody to give up, so these volunteers, they are incredibly invested in trying to find my brother,” she said.

Despite the dedication of the team of search and rescue volunteers, given the landscape in the area, it will be difficult to find her brother without more help, Dezigne said.

The place where Freiheit, 32, went missing — a section of trail between the municipalities of Jachenau and Vorderriss — is considered the most treacherous part of a Munich-to-Venice alpine trek known as the Dream Way, with gullies, deep trenches and rocky overhangs.

The family would like government help with air searches and more advanced search-and-rescue technology, as well as more trained search personnel.

His wife, Selena Freiheit, said every day that goes by without a sign of her husband feels “like a roller-coaster.”

“All we want is for him to be back home, safe, to have many more years to enjoy life together, start a family, all of those things that you just, at this age and this point in our life, you never assume that something like this can happen and so quickly.”

The teacher and outdoor enthusiast from Brandon, Man., was only two days into what was expected to be a 24-day expedition along the well-known alpine route, called Der Traumpfad in German, when he disappeared.

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