Man of mystery: Tourist arrives, vanishes, is finally found
NEW YORK (AP) — For weeks, an Uzbek tourist who had come to the country to visit his daughter was a man of mystery.
Sabirjon Akhmedov spent weeks in a Manhattan hospital after being found unconscious in a park three days after he was supposed to get on a bus to his daughter’s Ohio home, the Daily News reported. He was ultimately reunited with his family after a doctor saw a missing person poster for him, and contacted authorities.
“I knew he must have family somewhere,” Dr. Ayesha Arif told the Daily News. “I felt like, if this was my family member, I’d hope someone would be doing everything in their power to figure out who he was.”
The 61-year-old man had arrived in New York City at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Aug. 3 and was supposed to go on the bus trip with a nephew that night, leaving from the Chinatown neighborhood to head to Columbus, Ohio.
His nephew called police after Akhmedov failed to return from a trip to a deli. The investigating detective looked at surveillance video that appeared to show him getting lost before disappearing.
Authorities created the missing person poster, and his daughter and members of the Uzbek community looked for him unsuccessfully.
“I thought he was dead,” Feruza Akhmedova, his daughter, told the newspaper. “But police said he’s not dead, we’re going to find him and he will get better.”
In the meantime, a jogger called authorities on Aug. 6 about a man she saw near 110th Street and Riverside Drive, miles from where Akhmedov had been. He was taken to a nearby hospital with a traumatic brain injury and lacking any form of identification. He had some Uzbek currency with him.
He underwent a tracheotomy, and some weeks later, gave Arif what sounded like a name. An internet search turned up the missing person poster. She called authorities, which led to her patient being reunited with his daughter.
“It was a particularly good day,” Arif said. “Taking care of patients is rewarding. But this was rewarding in a different, more human way.”
Akhmedov plans on staying with daughter for some months before returning to Uzbekistan. He still has no recollection of what happened to him during the three days he was missing.