Polish Police Step Up Search for Irish Soccer Fan

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland (AP) - A time-stamped photo on a friend's
phone is the last trace authorities have of an Irish soccer fan who
went missing in Poland after a European Championship game Saturday.

The image shows him with his friends at 2 a.m. Sunday, but
everything after that is a mystery, one compounded by the blurry
memory of friends who had been drinking. Now, an intense search is
under way across the northern city of Bydgoszcz and in its Brda
River involving more than 100 police officers.

Photos of Nolan have been plastered around the city and one
police official says the disappearance is highly unusual for a
usually peaceful place.

"Nothing like this has ever happened (here) before," police
spokeswoman Monika Chlebicz told The Associated Press on Tuesday, providing new details into the search.

Nolan's own phone has been out of service since around the time
he was last photographed. After his friends had slept and woke up
later Sunday morning, they tried calling Nolan in his hotel room
and only then realized he had never returned there.

They then returned to the riverside bars where they had been the
night before to look for him, but about 15 hours lapsed before they
reported him missing.

Police said they have no information pointing to foul play and
that so far they are treating Nolan as a missing person. Rescue
divers were called in Tuesday to begin a search of the Brda River,
which runs through the historic city center and is lined with bars
and restaurants. The underwater search will resume Wednesday.

"Mr. Nolan's friends are of course trying to help the police,
but the problem is that it was a party night; they don't remember
exactly when it was that they last saw him. They are trying to
remember, but it's not very easy and so their information is not
very helpful" so far, Chlebicz said.

Nolan, of Blessington, County Wicklow, was in Poland for Euro
2012 games. He had been traveling with friends in a rented camper
van, but was also registered at a hotel on the city's outskirts. He
was last seen visiting local bars after watching televised games in
a fan zone Saturday night.

Chlebicz said she is sure the missing Irishman has not left
Poland nor traveled far from Bydgoszcz, because he had left his
passport at the hotel and only had about 300 zlotys ($90) on him. A
credit card he was carrying has not been used since his
disappearance.

"We are hoping for a happy end to this situation, but right now
we really don't know what has happened," she said.

In Ireland, Nolan's parents were distraught with his father
expecting a call from his son Sunday on Father's Day after speaking
to him the previous day.

"If there's anything anybody can do, we'd really appreciate
it," Jimmy Nolan said during an interview Monday night on Irish
state television RTE.

Fighting back tears, the father said "I know he's probably OK,
but I mean, if anybody anywhere knows anything, please just let us
know. Text us or ring us, or ring" the Irish police. He and his
wife Essie appealed for Irish soccer fans still in Poland to help
search for their son.

A Twitter campaign aimed at finding Nolan, who studies environment engineering at Tallaght Institute of Technology in Dublin, was launched in Ireland with the hashtags #FindJames and #JamesNolan.


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