San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica steps up search for David Gimelfarb

Search teams increased efforts Monday to find David Gimelfarb, the 28-year-old doctoral student from Chicago who disappeared last Tuesday in Costa Rica´s Rincón de la Vieja National Park in the northwest province of Guanacaste.

Red Cross officials from San José said 10 extra members of the Red Cross joined the search in the park, increasing the total number to 25. Combined with park rangers and local residents, close to 70 people are looking for the Chicago resident, who was still missing as of Monday afternoon.

Officials were not sure exactly how much of the park had been searched, but Freddy Román, a press officer for the Red Cross, said that teams had covered “good portion” of the area.

If search efforts don´t muster any results after eight days, teams will begin looking for signs of Gimelfarb outside the boundaries of the more than 14,000-hectare (34,000-acre) national park, he said.

Meanwhile, friends and family are helping in every way they can to locate the 28-year-old.

Gimelfarb´s mother Ludmilla and father Roma Gimelfarb flew to Costa Rica last Thursday to aid local efforts.

Ratana Koka, a family friend who accompanied the couple to Costa Rica, said they are not allowed to assist directly with the search because it would be too dangerous. But Koka and the family are buying groceries and running the supplies to search teams inside the park.

Koka is informing locals of the situation and said the family is holding out hope that Gimelfarb will be found.

“We haven´t reached the point where we are giving up,” she said. “If anything, we are ramping up. The people in the area have been absolutely fantastic. They all want to help out.”

On Monday night, friends back in Chicago researched private search companies that are equipped with infrared and heat seeking technology, Koka said. Officials have informed the family that this equipment may be the best way to locate Gimelfarb.

Gimelfarb arrived in Costa Rica alone last week to go hiking and relieve the pressure from his doctoral program in psychology. He was staying at the Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin in Guanacaste.

A communiqué from his family described him as an experienced hiker.

Those who have information about his disappearance or are interested in assisting are urged to contact his family at the Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin: 2665-3215.

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