Chicago police are scanning the lakefront and other areas of the city for missing Special Olympics athlete Rezwanul Haque from Bangladesh, who has autism and does not speak English, reports Chicago Tribune.
Haque, 22, an autistic soccer player, was last seen in hotel surveillance footage voluntarily getting into an SUV on Thursday afternoon, a day before the games were set to begin.
He remained missing as of Saturday afternoon, and his disappearance was classified by police as a high-risk missing person with no possible foul play.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Sun-Times that a group of people Haque was supposed to meet on Friday contacted police several hours after an unsuccessful search when he never showed up.
“We are working very hard to find him,” Guglielmi told the Chicago Tribune.
Haque, a gold winner in badminton in 2015 Special Olympics, is on the Bangladesh Unified Cup soccer team, according to a statement from Special Olympics International.
Monir Choudhury, honorary consul of Bangladesh in Illinois, said Saturday that he did not learn of Haque’s disappearance until around 11am Saturday. Choudhury met with members of the team Saturday afternoon to learn more information connected to his disappearance, he said.
“We are trying to find any clue, any last phone number, anything he discussed with another person,” Choudhury said.
The Special Olympics community, celebrating the event’s 50th anniversary this year, is also “anxiously awaiting” updates in the search for Haque, said Special Olympics founder and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.
Surveillance video reviewed by police shows Haque left his hotel, located in the 100 block of East Delaware Place in the Gold Coast neighbourhood, by himself about 5 p.m. Thursday and got into an SUV, said Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Police Department. Detectives do not believe foul play was involved in the athlete’s disappearance, Guglielmi said.
Detectives have been able to piece together Haque’s whereabouts from 4 to 11pm Thursday through interviews and surveillance video, but police have been unable to get any information about where Haque went after that time period, Guglielmi said. Officers have searched area hospitals and airports but have found no trace of the athlete, Guglielmi said.
“We are working very hard to try to find him,” Guglielmi said.
The search for Haque began when he didn’t show up to meet a group, Guglielmi said. When group members weren’t able to find him, they called police and filed a missing person’s report.
Special Olympics International in an email said it was alerted about 10am Friday by Haque’s team that he was missing. After searching areas where other athletes were, the organisation contacted hotel security at 2 p.m. Friday and then notified police an hour later, the organisation said in an email.
Typically, the head of each delegation — in this case the Special Olympics Bangladesh delegation — is responsible for each athlete, the Special Olympics International said in an email.
Chicago police detectives have also been reviewing footage from police cameras mounted on city streets. Officers across the city — particularly those in districts near downtown — have been keeping an eye out for Haque, who they think is on foot, Guglielmi said. Officers have also set out to search areas that Haque might have wanted to visit in Chicago.