The Saint John Police and the parents of a 20-year-old university student who went missing a month ago in Canada asked residents to help search for him.
Chi Thien Tran, also known as John, was last seen at approximately 11:00 p.m. in the area of Parkwood Avenue of Saint John on May 3.
Tran sent a text message to his parents that read, “Bye,” on the morning of his birthday on May 4 at 5:30 a.m.
His parents, Thao Tran and Thu Tran, have since contacted the regional police and have not given up hope that their son is still alive.
“I tried to call him, but the phone didn’t work,” Thu told CBC News. “I tried to send a text message. After that, the police also tried to track the phone. They said they cannot locate him.”
Tran has lived with a host family since 2019 as part of the Atlantic International Education Program. He graduated from Saint John High School in 2021. His parents had just arrived in Saint John six months ago from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to start their new life as a family.
“We hoped that my son will have a better environment for study, and life would be better,” Thu said. “We came here because of my son. He was here. We wanted a reunion, to be a family. But now, he is not here, and my life seems to be stopped. My heart cannot beat.”
The student, who is described as 5-foot-3-inches tall and 114 pounds with black hair and brown eyes, often visited Rockwood Park, Parkwood Avenue, Thornborough Avenue, Magazine Street, Park Street and Cameron Court, according to the Saint John Police Force.
Tran’s backpack, which contained his personal items and seaweed, was found by a Bayshore Beach resident near Sea Street on May 17. Authorities believe that the backpack may have drifted ashore, but no further evidence was found after additional searches.
Thao described his son as a “very sensitive” and “gentle” boy, who had just been accepted into the computer science program at the University of New Brunswick Saint John. His son may have been wearing a black jacket, jeans and black Adidas sneakers before he went missing.
“Six months beginning in a new country — different things, different language, different culture, different environment. We are so busy with the [paperwork], with the settlement,” Thu said. “As a mother, I kept busy with new things. But he faced difficulties, he felt lonely. And I was not alert enough to help my son. He kept silent, sitting in a room. Before he was missing, he looked very sad.”
“As the mother, I feel two different ways,” she added. “I still believe my son is still alive, just go to work, trying to find a job somewhere and work, and he will be back. I keep praying. I pray all day and night, I pray my son is still alive.”
Tran’s parents think that if their son drowned, his body may be stuck in an inaccessible area where trespassing is prohibited. No marine searches have been conducted yet.
The Saint John Police are asking residents along the shorelines for any available surveillance footage. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Saint John Police Force at 1-506-648-3333. For individuals who wish to remain anonymous, you may contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or 1-800-222-TIPS.