Missing West Kelowna man Andrew LaLonde was coming off seven days of binge drinking and suffering from hallucinations when he was last seen, heightening his family’s concern for his well-being.
“He struggles with alcoholism,” said his sister Jessie LaLonde, Monday, at an RCMP press conference where a public plea for sightings of her 30-year-old brother was re-issued on the heels of a failed Search and Rescue ground search.
“I just don’t know where his mind is at.”
Andrew had driven to Jessie’s house, sober, the night of Jan. 17 and was showing signs of mental distress—namely hallucinating and having fearful, paranoid thoughts—which she attributed to detoxing.
The next afternoon she went to his trailer in West Kelowna to follow up, and found the front door open, lights on and all important items left behind.
“He left without his wallet, keys and smokes,” she said.
Neighbours saw Andrew walking away from his home earlier that day, although he didn’t communicate with any of them avoiding eye-contact and failing to exchange any information.
Andrew doesn’t have a history of going missing, and his sister said it’s unlikely that his journey was for the sake of a social call, or that he’s hiding out at a friend’s home.
“He hasn’t worked and doesn’t have a network of friends,” Jessie said, noting her brother’s drinking has been a “struggle for years.”
The LaLonde’s moved moved to Kelowna five years ago to seek out rehab programs for Andrew, which have yet to work.
He’s tapped out local resources, she said, which prompted recent stints in Victoria rehab centres as well.
It’s unclear whether the drinking is masking a deeper issue, being as doctors can’t diagnose or treat mental or emotional disorders until a patient has been clean and sober for a certain amount of time.
What is clear to Jessie, however, is that there’s an urgent need for her family to have Andrew get home, safe and sound.
“We’re shocked and numbed,” she said, noting friends and co-workers have offered overwhelming support in the days following his disappearance, but it’s not helping to carve a clear path forward.
“We don’t know what to do,” she said.
“(We) want him home safe… he’s still my brother and (their) son, we miss him, and love him.”
And if he’s out there reading or listening to media coverage, Jessie wants him to remember to not feel “shame, guilt or embarrassment … just come home.”
The Central Okanagan Search and Rescue conducted an extensive ground search of the area but Lalonde was not located. The Search and Rescue effort concluded pending further information.
Lalonde is described as a 30 year old Caucasian man. He is 5’9″ and 176 pounds with short brown hair and brown eyes.
All residents of Kelowna and West Kelowna are asked to check outbuildings or any where that Lalonde may have crawled to seek shelter.
If you see Lalonde or have any information as to his whereabouts, please call the West Kelowna RCMP at (250) 768-2880, Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.crimestoppers.net to report.