Military Conducts Goose Chase Search, Missing Conscript Turns Up at Home (1)
Police found a conscript in good health at his Rakvere home yesterday evening after he had gone missing for 24 hours and triggered a major search operation.
The private, Jaan Pikhof, had disappeared from the Kalev Infantry Battalion during an orienteering exercise in Tapa. His Galil AR firearm disappeared with him, but he did not have ammunition.
The Defense Forces launched a search involving over 500 people, dogs and a helicopter. Together they combed roughly 180 square kilometers.
At noon yesterday, searchers found the soldier's trousers and knee pads.
As evening approached, the search was called off for the night because the landscape included potentially dangerous swamps.
Soon afterward, police found Pikhof at his home.
Military authorities will now decide what disciplinary measures will be taken and who will pay for the search efforts. Officials declined to speculate on whether the misconduct qualified as criminal in nature, but said the incident was complicated by the fact that the private had taken along his firearm.
A similar incident occurred in the same military unit three years ago.