An American student has been reported missing by his family while studying abroad in France.
The parents of 22-year-old Ken DeLand Jr. have set up a website to share information about their son, who they say has been missing since last month.
They say they last heard from their son, known as Kenny, on November 27 when he boarded a train to Valence in southeastern France.
The family says they fear the worst and want him to be located.
DeLand Jr. attended the University of Grenoble Alpes in France through a study abroad program. On Sunday, November 27, he left his host family’s home and was on his way to Valence, a two-hour train journey from Grenoble, according to the website set up by his family in the US. His family say they last spoke to him via messaging service WhatsApp and have not heard from him since.
His study program would end on December 17 and his visa will expire early next year, they say on the website.
Grenoble’s prosecutor said in a statement it had opened an investigation following a report on November 29 “by students, of the disturbing disappearance of a 21-year-old American student who had come to Grenoble to study French”.
“The young man allegedly told several people that he had arrived in France inadequately prepared and that he had difficulty making friends,” the statement said. “He seems to have left Grenoble voluntarily,” it added, noting that “he also said he wanted to go to Marseille before returning to the United States.”
DeLand Jr. was in “constant contact” with his family while his father, also known as Ken DeLand, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in France in an interview that aired Monday morning.
“He contacted me almost daily, sometimes every other day,” the father said.
“Kenny is a friendly, outgoing student, a young man,” he added. “He likes to travel. So this trip was something he really looked forward to and enjoyed.”
The private St. John Fisher University in Rochester, New York confirmed that DeLand Jr. was a student there.
The university told NBC News it will continue to do everything possible to assist in the investigation into DeLand Jr. enforcement of the search, said a spokesman for the university.
“Our campus community continues to hope that Kenneth is found safe and returns home,” the spokesperson added.
The AIFS said it “aligns itself with others concerned for his safety and we are working with local law enforcement who have launched a search. We have been in touch with Kenneth’s family and University and we hope for his speedy and safe return .”
DeLand Jr.’s family said they had filed a missing person report with French police, meaning authorities would be notified if he boarded a train or plane to leave France with his passport.
A surveillance camera captured DeLand Jr. entered a sporting goods store in Montelimar in southeastern France on Dec. 3, where he made a purchase for $8.40, according to the parents.
DeLand Jr.’s Facebook page shows photos and videos from his recent travels in France, but has been inactive since Nov. 19, eight days before his family say they last heard from him.
He is about 6 ft tall and weighs 190 lbs. He was last seen wearing a red coat, scarf, gray beanie, blue jeans/pants, black backpack and sneakers, according to the website set up by the family.
Caroline Radnofsky contributed.