A United States college student who was reported missing while studying abroad in France has been reunited with his mother and is heading back to the states, authorities said Saturday.
Ken DeLand Jr. “is currently in Lyon with his mother, and they should be taking a plane together for the United-States today during the day,” Grenoble public prosecutor Eric Vaillant said in a statement early Saturday.
DeLand went missing in November but made contact with his parents on Friday morning from Spain, according to reports.
His family said on a website dedicated to finding him that his mother, Carol Laws, was in France “preparing to see Kenny and hopefully bring him home for Christmas.”
“We are so happy to announce that Kenny is safe; we received a call from Kenny in the early morning hours on December 16, 2022. Kenny is in Spain, and Carol (his mom) is in France, preparing to see Kenny and hopefully bring him home for Christmas.,” said the website.
DeLand was reported missing last month while studying at the University Grenoble Alpes in France, his family said in an older post on the website. They said at the time that they had last heard from DeLand on Nov. 27 via WhatsApp, a text message and calling app.
The 22-year-old went to class on Nov. 28, his family said. The following day, he left his host family’s home and boarded a train for Valence, France, packing a small bag that held his cellphone, food, wallet and a change of clothes.
The family said on the website that DeLand’s phone pinged on Nov. 30 at the Valence train station, and days later, on Dec. 3, he made a purchase at a sporting goods store.
DeLand is a student at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, New York. His study program was supposed to end Saturday, and his visa expires in January.
On the website, the family thanked news outlets Friday, saying: “Without the media’s help, Kenny would not have seen himself in the news.”
“We want to thank all the Media members for their diligence and swift attention in spreading the word about our Son. Without the media’s help, Kenny would not have seen himself in the news and reached out to us. We also want to thank St. John Fisher College, the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), French Administrations, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, especially the Rochester and Buffalo branches, Congress Woman Claudia Tenney, and Senator Pamela Helming. We also want to extend our love and appreciation to our fantastic community for rallying together,” said the family.
The disappearance was investigated by the Grenoble public prosecutor’s office, which had previously said that DeLand told people he was “insufficiently prepared” for the trip. The office said it appeared that he had voluntarily left Grenoble.
Details surrounding Kenny’s disappearance are not yet clear.