Family hopes missing veteran can rely on Army survival skills in Colorado
By FRANK WILKES LESNEFSKY | The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa. | Published: July 11, 2018
SCRANTON, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — Missing more than a week after hiking on a Colorado mountain, Brian Perri’s family and friends hope the Army veteran's survival training will bring him home safe.
Perri, 38, was last heard from on June 30 while hiking on Mount Meeker at Rocky Mountain National Park in northern Colorado. Crews have been searching for the veteran and graduate student since Thursday, the day his loved ones realized he was missing.
Perri’s sister, Rebecca Pilny, wants to make sure she is using every resource available to bring her brother home. Using Facebook, she and others who know Perri are keeping people up to date on search efforts and encouraging his friends to contact political officials to get more help in finding him.
“It’s seriously the hardest thing we’ve ever been through, but I’m in fight mode right now,” said Pilny, 40, of Binghamton, New York.
Perri graduated from Carbondale Area Junior Senior High School in 1998 before joining the Army where he served in psychological operations, Pilny said. During his military tenure, he went through the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training program.
“Because of that, he has had survival training, and that’s why we’re hopeful that he can live in a survival situation in the wilderness for longer than the average person,” she said.
Perri moved to Colorado about two years ago and is a graduate student at Colorado State University where he studies health physics. He is set to finish his thesis this summer, Pilny said. He received his undergraduate degree from Bloomsburg University.
A loyal friend, Perri often texts his sister “some kind of strange quote he’s read” or books he thinks she would be interested in reading, Pilny said.
“He’s sort of goofy,” she said. “He has a quirky laugh, and he’s quirky too.”
Her brother enjoys mountain climbing and survival, including going “gearless camping” where he camps without a tent.
On July 4, Pilny texted her brother to see what he was doing for the holiday.
When she did not hear back from him that night, she figured he was at a concert. When Perri still had not gotten back to her the next day, which was unlike him, and his phone went directly to voicemail, Pilny started to worry.
She reached out to her brother’s emergency contact in Colorado and realized no one had heard from him. Pilny contacted one of Perri’s friends and found out he had texted his friend a photo of himself on the summit of Mount Meeker on June 30. Crews later found Perri’s car in a nearby parking lot on July 5.
During the nearly weeklong search effort, crews have used helicopters, search dogs, ground search teams and drones to comb through the 22.5-square-mile search area, Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said in an email Tuesday. Much of the search area is rugged, remote terrain with loose rock, steep ridges and exposed cliffs, she said.
Officials told Pilny crews are starting to exhaust their resources. Air resources have been reassigned due to wild fires, according to a statement from the park.
To offset any medical costs and support further search efforts, Perri’s loved ones created a Gofundme account gofundme.com/funds-for-brian-perri.
“I’m just trying to be an advocate for my brother and make sure that I can say at the end of the day that ... I did everything I could to make sure he was found and came home,” Pilny said.
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