SARANAC LAKE - A missing Australian man who was last seen leaving a Saranac Lake hotel six days ago suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and left all his belongings to his father, village Police Chief Bruce Nason said today.
Paul McKay, 31, of Canberra, Australia, was last seen Tuesday morning walking down Lake Flower Avenue after leaving the Best Western Mountain Lake Inn, Nason said. McKay had spent one night at the hotel after flying to the U.S. from Australia and then traveling to the Adirondacks by bus.
Nason said police started looking for McKay after they were contacted by his father, who had received an email from his son that was sent from the hotel.
Saranac Lake police are looking for Paul McKay, seen here in August 2013.
"In this email, he told his father he was giving him all his possessions; everything that he owned in Australia now becomes his father's property," Nason said. "And he shared some financial information and some other information that would lead us to believe he didn't plan on going back."
Nason said McKay hasn't contacted his family since he sent that email. The family had no idea he was even in this area, the chief said.
"We don't know why he came here," Nason said.
Have you seen him?
6 feet, 1 inch tall
Wearing a large backpack
There was nothing in the email that indicates McKay may be despondent, Nason said, but police have learned that McKay suffers from PTSD. A veteran of the Australian military, McKay had served in combat in Afghanistan and was still enlisted at the time he came to the U.S., the chief explained.
A Best Western employee saw McKay leave the hotel around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. Nason said McKay left some of his belongings behind at the hotel.
Police issued a missing person notice late Friday night. Information about McKay's disappearance, including a picture of him that was taken in August, was also posted on the police department's Facebook page. Police asked for the public's help in locating McKay.
Nason said police received some phone calls in response to that request, including one from a person who reported seeing McKay walking east on Lake Flower Avenue, toward Lake Placid, Tuesday morning.
Police Sgt. Casey Reardon said the witness contacted police after reading a story about McKay's disappearance on the Enterprise website. The witness told police McKay may have left state Route 86 and headed down the railroad tracks between Saranac Lake and Ray Brook, Reardon wrote in an email.
"He was described as wearing a large backpack and looking prepared to go backcountry hiking," Reardon wrote. "The witness is confident that it was McKay he observed as the witness was also a guest at the Best Western hotel and spoke with him briefly.
"We're asking anybody that may have been driving on Lake Flower Avenue on the 31st between 10 and 11 in the morning, whether they were coming into town or going toward Lake Placid, that if they saw this individual to please get a hold of us," Nason said.
Other than that one witness, the search for him has come up empty so far, Nason said.
"We've spoke to everybody that was in and around the hotel at the time," he said. "We've been checking businesses with cameras that face the road. We've been going door to door, but right now it's been concentrating with the businesses to see if there's an image of him."
Police are also monitoring the bank accounts associated with McKay's credit and debit cards. There hasn't been any activity on those accounts since Dec. 31, Nason said.
McKay isn't married and has no children, the chief said.
He is 6 feet, 1 inch tall, weighs 170 pounds, has brown hair and hazel eyes.
Anyone with information as to McKay's whereabouts is asked to call village police at 518-891-4428.