Canadian Atomic Scientist vanishes without trace
2010-02-24 0:00

By Adrian Morrow |

On Jan. 18, Lachlan Cranswick left the Chalk River nuclear facility, where he worked, and took a bus to Deep River, the small town on the Ottawa River where he lived.

The 41-year-old physicist, whose job entailed running experiments for the National Research Council, had just finished some work for a researcher overseas and left his findings on his desk, to be mailed later.

Sometime that night or the next morning, he took his garbage bins outside for pickup.

Then, he vanished without a trace.

Lachlan Cranswick was last seen Jan. 18, 2010.

When he didn’t show up for work for several days and missed a game with the local curling club, of which he was a devoted member, his friends went looking for him.

At his house, his door was unlocked and his car was parked in the garage. His wallet, keys and passport were all there. But Cranswick was nowhere to be found.

Now, a month after he was last seen, police say they have done everything they can to find him, but they still have no idea where he is.

"We’re at the end of all the possible information we have received," said Const. Darin Faris, the Deep River police officer leading the investigation. "There has been no information from the public that has helped."

Police originally believed Cranswick had gone for a walk on one of the many trails near his house and got lost, Faris said. However, all the items he usually took with him when going for nature walks ? a fanny pack, flashlight, whistle to ward off wildlife and a GPS system ? were found in his house.

A search of the area with tracking dogs and a helicopter could find no trace of him. Police checked across the Ottawa River, and searched nearby hospitals. They had no luck.

Police, along with the scientist’s colleagues at the National Research Council, have contacted his acquaintances to see if he had been planning to travel.

Faris said Cranswick is known as a well-organized, regimented man who would be unlikely to take a spontaneous trip without telling anyone. He also points to the work left unmailed on the scientist’s desk as evidence he wasn’t planning to leave.

"If he was going to go away for any length of time, or if he was ending his life, he would have finished it up," he said.

If Cranswick had been murdered or accidentally killed, Faris said, there would be some physical evidence left behind. Police have found none.

Cranswick grew up in Melbourne, Australia, before moving to England as a young man. He worked as an experimental physicist in Britain before taking up his job in Canada in 2003.

The Neutron Beam Centre in Chalk River is used as a laboratory for scientists from around the world to conduct various experiments and academic research. Cranswick’s job was to help them by running tests. His primary specialty was earth sciences and testing samples of substances to find their molecular structure, said colleague Daniel Banks.

Cranswick’s family declined to comment when contacted in Australia by the Star, but said the scientist’s brother had been in Canada for more than a week looking for him.

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