Ken DeLand, an American college student missing in France for more than two weeks, previously interned at the office of a New York state senator, as the politician recalls how the now-missing 22-year-old had “brought with him a positive energy every day.”
DeLand, enrolled at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, New York, was last heard from on November 27.
The university student, who is studying abroad at the University of Grenoble Alpes, was last seen about 85 miles away on surveillance video at a store in Montelimar, France.
There, bank statements indicate that he made an $8.40 purchase around 9 am on December 3 and has not been seen since.
KEN DELAND: FATHER OF MISSING AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENT IN FRANCE WARNS OTHER PARENTS ABOUT STUDYING ABROAD
“The news of Ken’s disappearance is troubling and has certainly taken everyone by surprise,” State Sen. Pam Helming, a Republican representing New York State Senate District 54, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. I met Ken when he was a senior in high school and I gave him a proclamation at his Eagle Scout ceremony. Ken later became an intern in my Senate office from 2019-2020 and brought a positive energy with him every day.”
“I pray that they find him safe and return home soon to be with his family,” she added.
DeLand’s father, also named Ken DeLand, told Fox News Digital early Monday that his son was studying psychology and was aiming to become a lawyer after graduation. He also took French courses throughout high school and saw studying abroad as an opportunity to improve his language skills.
The elder DeLand said he has been pleading with the French university and AIFS Abroad for more information on friends or acquaintances the 22-year-old was with abroad, or just any other details that could lead to his whereabouts, but the institutions have cited privacy restrictions that prevent their publication.
Because Kenny is an adult, the student would have had to sign a waiver allowing the release of private information to other parties, including his own parents, according to the elder DeLand.
“Well, if he’s missing, he can’t sign anything. And going into this, I never thought this would be something that would happen in my wildest dreams,” the elder DeLand said. “I don’t know everything about the legalities and stuff. I’m just a parent who’s worried about my son’s whereabouts.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, St. John Fisher University said it “will continue to do everything possible to assist the investigation to find Kenneth DeLand.”
“University officials have been in close contact with the American Institute of Foreign Studies (AIFS), who are working with local law enforcement on the search, as well as Kenneth’s family to offer support during this time,” it said. a spokesperson for the university. “Our campus community is hopeful that Kenneth is found safe and returns home.”
Vacation doesn’t start for college until Saturday.
The State Department said it is “aware of reports of a missing US citizen in France.”
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“When a US citizen goes missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families as we can,” a spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “The Department of State has no higher priority than the welfare and safety of American citizens abroad. We stand ready to provide appropriate assistance to American citizens and their families in need.”
DeLand’s family said it is out of character for their son not to contact them.