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Panic over missing triathlete

Desperate family offers reward in hope of finding Ironman contestant

David Rene Roger Bellet-Brissaud's wife Lydia Bellet-Brissaud and brother Gael Bellet-Brissaud. David has been missing since Friday, April 13.
David Rene Roger Bellet-Brissaud's wife Lydia Bellet-Brissaud and brother Gael Bellet-Brissaud. David has been missing since Friday, April 13.
Image: Deneesha Pillay

“Panic is now starting to set in,” the brother of missing Ironman contestant David Bellet-Brissaud said yesterday as he arrived in Port Elizabeth to join the search for his sibling.

“My brother has been missing for four days,” Gael Bellet-Brissaud said.

He has offered a reward of R12 000 for any concrete information that leads to his brother being found.

The family has also asked for members of the public to look out for a Garmin fitness tracker that he was wearing with a bracelet and a black necklace.

Bellet-Brissaud, 48, of Gabon, disappeared without a trace from the Paxton Hotel in Humerail in the early hours of Friday.

His wife, Lydie, said they had arrived in Port Elizabeth at 3pm on Thursday.

Ironman athlete David Rene Roger Bellet-Brissaud disappeared on Friday morning.
Ironman athlete David Rene Roger Bellet-Brissaud disappeared on Friday morning.
Image: Supplied

“We went to the [hotel] room. Then we went to Hobie Beach to look at the starting point for Ironman,” she said.

“We were with our friends from Gabon, who were also taking part.”

Lydie said they had gone to Col’Cacchio at the Boardwalk at 7pm to “carboload” with some pasta.

“We returned at 9.30pm. My husband was very tired and went to bed. I still had a drink with a friend in the hotel,” she said.

Lydie returned to the room at 11pm. “He [her husband] was in bed when I arrived there. He asked me where I had been. I [then] went to bed.”

However, at 1.20am, Lydie woke up and could not find Bellet-Brissaud.

“I went to reception [but] they had not seen him,” she said.

“I thought he had maybe needed some fresh air – I went to reception again.

“I woke up a friend, Anthony Salas, who helped me search around the hotel.

“We then woke up another athlete with a car and went to search some more.

“We have been to these events in the big cities. We know it is not recommended to walk outside alone at night.

“David was excited about the Ironman competition.

“He was also stressed. “It [Ironman] involved a lot of training.

“He was a little bit more quiet than before and I was a bit concerned.”

Lydie said her husband did not have his bicycle with him as it had only arrived on Friday.

Gael said he admired his sister-in-law’s strength.

“She is so strong. She hasn’t slept.

“The reality of the situation is now setting in.”

Bellet-Brissaud’s sister, Vanessa Perret, who flew in with her husband Emmanuel, said: “I am concerned that he might have been hurt or confused or disorientated.

“I am really hoping that people will come forward with information.

“He is not a man who drinks or smokes. He was very fit and took part in Ironman competitions and also in marathons.”

Perret said her brother had been working at the same forestry company in Gabon for 15 years. Gael said they were also appealing to the French police to assist with the search.

The family expressed gratitude to hotel staff and police for their assistance.

Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the family had been briefed by the police yesterday morning.

“We are urging businesses along the beachfront to view their CCTV footage and see if any person fitting his [BelletBrissaud’s] description can be seen as he may have walked past.”

Naidu said Bellet-Brissaud could be seen on Paxton’s CCTV footage leaving the hotel and then disappearing from view.

“The police dog unit, SAPS Air Wing and divers combed the entire beachfront area in an attempt to trace him.”

Naidu said there were no developments or leads overnight.

Anyone with information should contact Detective Warrant Officer Eric Mathews on 083-380-3714 or Detective Constable Ridwaan Baatjies on 073-130-3018, Crime Stop on 08600-10111 or Humewood police on (041) 504-5019.

The family of the Ironman competitor who disappeared in Port Elizabeth ahead of the Standard Bank Ironman African Championship have offered a reward to anyone with information regarding his wherea...

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