Jesse Galganov is a bright young man who intended to go to med school in Philadelphia after taking a year off of school to travel the world. Jesse is a dual citizen of the US and Canada and lived with his mother in Montreal.
Jesse?s plan was to go backpacking throughout South America and Southeast Asia, with his first stop being Peru where he would hike the famous Santa Cruz trail. Jesse was an experienced traveler and hiker, and it was a dream of his to hike this trail. At points, this trail can reach 15000′ above sea level and isn?t for novice hikers.
On September 24, 2017, Jesse left Montreal and headed to his first stop in Peru. Jesse texted his mom Alisa on September 28 and told her that he was leaving to hike the Santa Cruz trail and wouldn?t be able to text her for a few days, but he said that he would be sure to text her by October 2nd.
Alisa became alarmed when Jesse did not text her by the 2nd and quickly notified the authorities of her son?s disappearance.
Unfortunately, to this date, Jesse?s whereabouts are unknown.
There are a lot of confusing information about this case, some of it may be deliberate. The hostel that Jesse stayed at said that he had checked in, then later changed their story to say that he was never there.
The initial investigation was hindered by local police. Alisa stated ?It?s such a backward and such a corrupt country,? she said, with a lack of security and organization. Registration logs on the trail were incomplete or missing and cell phone service providers initially wouldn?t release details of when and where Jesse?s devices were used last. The Park Service that administers the trail said that no one registered on the trail the day Jesse went hiking. We now know that is not true and the logs had been most likely tampered with.
Jesse and his mom Alisa
?It?s a different place here,? Alisa says. ?It?s partly cultural, but the police aren?t motivated. They need to be pushed.?
Mule drivers that frequent the trail have been reluctant to help investigations, they come from a very close-knit community and they believe that they might be blamed if Jesse?s body is found on the trail.
Alisa said that she probably will file a lawsuit against the Huascaran National Park for negligence as well as fraud related to the forgeries of Park registration documents
?It?s not a place where travelers should go until it?s made safe,? she said.
Alisa has done her own fundraising and sold off personal assets to fund search efforts including hiring a world-renowned search and rescue firm from Isreal. Magnus International Search & Rescue has developed a personality profile for Jesse to try to guess what decisions he may have made that day that could have contributed to his disappearance, and have located some tourists that interacted with Jesse on that fateful day.
Santa Cruz Trail
Two French tourists had spoken with Jesse on the trail that day and said he seemed disoriented and told them that he felt sick. From this account, it is believed that Jesse may have been suffering from altitude sickness. On Oct. 1, he had asked a group of Czech tourists about getting water. After that meeting, there was no other sign of Jesse.
That he was not found close to the route he was hiking suggests that ?either he was carried out of the area or hidden very carefully,? There was a group from Austria who started an hour after him and the next day another group started in the opposite direction and no one saw him.
Alisa believes that Jesse may have succumbed to altitude sickness and died while hiking, possibly someone robbed him in his confused state, or even robbed his body after he passed then hid the body. None of Jesse?s belongings have ever been recovered.
Alisa has traveled to Peru herself and walked the trail that Jesse walked. Alisa said the trail is difficult to navigate, dangerous and poorly marked, that hazards in addition to the altitude include mud fields, jagged rock fragments known as scree and slippery rock sheets.
In the beginning, Alisa looked for signs of her lost son. Now, she says she walks the trail to raise awareness and to feel closer to Jesse.
?Jesse was not just my son, but he was my best friend. We took ski trips out west alone together annually, loved spending time together, and we talked about everything.? Alisa stated. Often dreaming of her son, she describes ?mostly the comfort of his presence, seeing him, hearing his voice ? just a feeling that he is with me.? and a reprieve from ?the constant aching void that I feel for him every waking minute.?
Jesse Galanov is still missing, and his family is still searching for his whereabouts to this day.
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