Dogs, drones, a helicopter and 30 men searched for Michal Kozek, a 35-year-old Polish citizen who hasn’t been seen since on July 7 he left a hotel in Calheta for a run. Family continues to search but the mystery remains.
Difficult accessibility, dense vegetation, constant fog – the general characteristics of Madeira’s forests have not helped, nor are they helping, the search for Michal Kozek, a Polish amateur marathon runner who on Wednesday, July 7th, left his hotel. in Calheta, in the western part of the municipality of Funchal, on the island of Madeira, to run in the mountains, and he no longer showed signs of life. The news was revealed by the daily “Público”.
That Wednesday, Michal did not return to the hotel, nor in the following days, and he did not make any contact with the family, who live in Gickhauawn, Switzerland. The alert, moreover, was given by the athlete’s own family, on the morning of July 8th. When he was last seen, Michal was wearing a blue sweater, black shorts, and purple sneakers. He would have a GPS watch with him, which would reveal his geographic position.
The search operations had mobilized until Saturday about 30 workers from the Regional Civil Protection Service, firefighters, PSP and GNR, which moved into the field with teams of sniper dogs. In addition to this small contingent, there are also people participating in the searches.
According to what Michal Kozek’s family told the authorities, the Pole started training around 6 pm on 7 July, in Porto Moniz, in the far north of Madeira. His intention would be to climb the mountain to the island’s central massif, and descend the southern slope to Calheta, then following part of the route that is part of the Madeira Islands Ultra-Trail, a mountain running event that has a distance of 115 kilometers.
“A lot could have happened”
“What we know is that [o cidadão polaco] he ran to the mountain and showed the family the route. We have already covered it, as well as other alternative routes around it, but without success,” Jacinto Serrão, commander of Calheta Firefighters, told the “Public”, who does not risk prognosis. “A lot may have happened. You may have been lost and had an accident. Or [pode ter] sought to explore alternative routes,” the commander added to that newspaper, confirming that the searches were suspended on Saturday night.
The disappearance is now under the purview of the PSP, but the firefighters are willing to return to the search: “If they ask us for help, let’s go straight to the ground,” said commander Jacinto Serrão.
Heard by “Público”, Rocha da Silva, former Forests regional director, who knows the island’s mountainous interior well, points out that “the Madeiran mountains are not extensive, but they have characteristics that make search and rescue operations difficult”. And he gives an example: “A fall, even if it is not fatal, can make it difficult or even impossible for this person to be found later”, he says, explaining later that difficult accessibility, dense vegetation and fog complicate operations.
family doesn’t give up
The family of Michal Kozek, who is 35 and married, lives in Gickhauawn, Switzerland, and is not willing to give up, having multiplied appeals through the social network Facebook. Also according to the newspaper “Público”, Michal’s brother has already arrived in Funchal over the weekend and continues to search, with the help of other marathon runners.