U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal has contacted the State Department and the White House to assist in finding a Storrs, Connecticut woman who has gone missing during a hiking pilgrimage in Japan.
Patricia Wu-Murad is a recent retiree, lifelong hiker, devoted mother of three and married for almost 33 years to career educator and longtime girl’s high school basketball coach, Kirk Murad. He is now a consultant for local school administrators.
Murad was last seen in the early morning of April 10, leaving a guesthouse for the next day leg of her journey, but never showed up as scheduled for the night’s destination. She was to do a 11.2-mile trek that day that takes about seven to nine hours, family members said.
Her family, who say they were notified by authorities, a few days later after they had conducted a failed search, recently arrived in Japan to meet with authorities in hopes they will agree to resume searching the mountainous region where they believe she was last trekking.
Meanwhile, in the last few days the family has hired private searchers – as they know time is of the essence – and established a GoFundMe page to help pay for the pricey search.
In a few days, as of Monday afternoon, the family had raised more than $88,000 of their $100,000 goal.
Blumenthal is aiding through his office and “praying,” he said.
“Having spoken to members of Pattie’s family, some now already in Japan, I am determined to seek every possible source of search and rescue to aid her,” he said. “I have contacted the State Department and the White House to assist and will continue helping the Murad family through every avenue available. I am deeply concerned and am praying for Pattie’s safe return to her family.”
Wu-Murad is wouldn’t have run into any problems on the trek unless there was an unexpected event such as a mudslide or avalanche, her sister-in-law and family spokesperson Julie Murad-Caruso said.
Kirk Murad, reached by text as he was flying to Japan Sunday night, said, “Friends and family have shown tremendous love and support, which is of needed comfort during this nightmare.
“Pattie has been my best friend since 1986. We married in 1990. I want to celebrate our 33rd anniversary next month with her and both our families,” Murad wrote.
He said the police in Japan stopped searching after three days and didn’t notify the consulate in Japan that his wife was missing until early Friday morning.
“I tried to find her location after calling and texting her, but her battery had already died by that point,” Kirk Murad told the Courant by text.
Kirk Murad said the phone company was contacted but does not keep last known location information.
Daughter Murphy Murad wrote in a GoFundMe update recently that her mom planned to be in Osaka on April 13 and 14. She was supposed to meet up with a couple close to the family in Ryozen-ji Temples on April 16.
“Our family friends went to the location hoping she would show up but after waiting for a few hours, walking around both temples, and showing Pattie’s picture around, they came out empty handed.”
Pattie Murad is a graduate of the UConn School of Business and a recent retiree of United Technologies, a family member said.
“She’s touched so many lives,” and tells it like it is, Murad-Caruso said said of her sister-in-law, who moved with her family to the United States from Taiwan as a youngster. “She has a strong work ethic, she’s focused, extremely intelligent and she loves to bake for her family.”
She said her sister-in-law left for her pilgrimage in March and was several weeks in.
Family members said searching in the mountainous region is expensive, as a private search and rescue mountain crew was about $10,000 plus about another $5,000 to fly them to Osaka, hiring a helicopter for aerial search at $1,600 per hour.
In an updated GoFundMe post Monday, daughter Murphy Murad gave an update.
“My family and I have gathered that she was following the Kohechi route of the Kumano Kodo trail, traveling north to south,” Murphy wrote.
Murphy wrote that when her mom checked out of the Mandokoro guesthouse at about 7 a.m. April 10, the employee remembers her wearing a brownish red jacket with a camera in her hands.
They called police to report Pattie Murad had not shown up at that night’s guesthouse.
Anyone with suggestions can email: HelpfindPattie@gmail.com/© Hartford Courant