Michael Griffin Harrie, the 29-year-old Auburn University student whose family had reported him missing in Asia, is safe and well in Thailand, his father told CNN Friday. Harrie called his father from the U.S. Embassy in Thailand.
“My God, you can’t imagine. It’s just a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” Paul Harrie told CNN. “We are so happy. We are just so pleased.
Boy, we were so worried. It’s terrific. I’ve had two nights of no sleep.”
The younger Harrie, a veterinary student on a study abroad program, apparently was unaware that his family had reported him missing, his father said. “He went to Malaysia and stayed there for two days. And when he got back (to Thailand), a lady said, ‘Listen, you’re all over the Internet and the news.’”
He then got in touch with the embassy.
Harrie had sent a message to his family to let them know that he would be staying in Thailand longer than originally planned, and thought the message had gone through, his father said. “He thought everyone know where he was.”
Harrie will be returning to the United States and “will probably come back to L.A. to see us,” his father said. The family lives in Los Angeles, California.
“I think he will take that time to regroup and deal a little with the questions. We’ve been through an emotional roller-coaster.”
In an interview Thursday, Paul Harrie had raised questions about his son’s actions and suggested his son may have lied about his travel plans.
“We don’t know what the story is. … We can’t fathom the behavior. It is so atypical of him,” Harrie said at the time.
Michael Griffin Harrie was enrolled in a study program at a school in Japan over the summer. He informed one of his professors that he was leaving on July 7 for a one-week vacation with friends in Bangkok, Thailand. He was expected back on July 14. But Harrie did not return on that date.
On July 16, he failed to show up for a planned meeting with his parents in Tokyo. They soon reported him missing.
His parents flew back to their home in California and worked with Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, to try to track down their son.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Paul Harrie said he believed his son went to Thailand by himself, and called the story about going with friends a “ruse.”
The family hired a private investigator to help find their son, and was “wondering what the heck is going on,” he said.
On Friday, Thai police said Harrie had crossed the border from Thailand into Malaysia on Wednesday, apparently on his own free will.
The family said Harrie is an experienced traveler. Paul Harrie said he considered it unlikely that Michael would have a connection to narcotics or other illegal activity. “He’s never been one to do drugs,” Harrie insisted. “I can’t imagine he would have the mindset to smuggle or drug deal or anything like that. I suspect he needs a break, or something is profoundly disturbing him,” he said Thursday.
After getting the good news Friday, Harrie described himself as being in “a strange, sleepless, happy state.”
“We were just ecstatic because you just worry so much. I had all these terrible scenarios through my mind. And now they just go away. A simple mistake, that’s all. Not communicating, and he should have made sure to get through. He said communications in Thailand are pretty difficult.”
The relieved father added, “Oh man, it’s wonderful.”