HARLEM—The father of a Virginia man missing since coming to New York to celebrate New Year said he and his family remain hopeful that his son will be found safe.
"He's never done anything like this. He has traveled before and this is not something we would have expected, but we're of course hopeful," said Ian Burnet's dad Mark, who traveled from his home in Virginia to New York City Thursday to thank volunteers searching for his 22-year-old son.
Ian Burnet came to the city from his home in Richmond, Va, on Dec. 26 to visit friends and celebrate New Year's Eve in Times Square. Virginia police say Burnet told a friend he "wasn't having a good experience in New York City."
Police say his MetroCard was last swiped at the 145th and Broadway station of the 1 line the day he disappeared. His father said there has been no activity on his cell phone or credit card since his son went missing.
"Friends have told us about people who have decided to drop out for a while and take a break," he said.
"We are hoping that's what has happened and that he's okay. If that's the case, we want to communicate with him. He knows we love him."
Burnet Sr. said there is every reason to believe that his son intended to return home. A text sent to a friend in Virginia indicated that he expected to be home by Jan. 2.
"He texted a friend back in Virginia and said they would get together after Jan. 2," said his dad.
"He was making plans to return. He just traveled up for New Year's for a little fun."
Ian Burnet was an engineering student on full scholarship at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has no history of drug or alcohol problems, say family members,
But he said seeing the outpouring of support that his son has received from total strangers has been amazing for his family. A Facebook page set up to help find the young man has more than 2,300 followers. A website was also set up.
Volunteers have been handing out fliers and searching. Mark Burnet said one of the biggest reasons for his trip was to thank and encourage all of the volunteers. He plans to return home to his wife and another son Saturday.
"The people of New York have been outstanding. They were perfect strangers, but many were parents who understand when a child goes missing it hurts," said Mark Burnet.
"I would say the people of New York and New Jersey are kindred souls."
Ian Burnet is described as being about 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds with green eyes and curly brown hair. Anyone with information about him is asked to call (804) 966-9500 or the 30th Precinct at (212) 690 8842.