A man who has worked as a ski instructor in Aspen for the past 11 years has gone missing in Thailand.
Since 2001, Brett Bean, 43, has spent half of each year surfing on Phuket, a small island in Thailand, and the other half working as a ski instructor for Aspen Skiing Co. at Snowmass. Each November, Bean typically leaves his island home and makes his way to Aspen, stopping to see his parents in California on the way. This year was supposed to be no different.
Bean left a message for his parents on Nov. 26, the night before he was to catch a 9:35 p.m. flight out of Phuket. The message said he was looking forward to being home and he confirmed his flight schedule, said his mom Lynne Bean.
Bean’s flight was to land at Los Angeles International Airport on Nov. 28, where his parents waited to pick him up, but he never arrived, Lynne Bean said. The airline told Bean’s parents that he was listed as a “no show,” because he did not check in, cancel or rebook his flight. Bean’s parents waited at the airport for two days before they decided to notify the U.S. Embassy in Thailand that their son never made it home, Lynne Bean said. The embassy in turn notified the local police and newspapers in Phuket and the search for the missing Bean began.
Since Bean was originally reported missing, his parents made the trip to Thailand in an effort to find clues that could lead to his discovery. At his bungalow, where he had pre-paid the next six months of rent to hold the place through the winter, there was laundry still hanging on a clothes line outside and inside police found his passport, a small amount of cash and flight departure information, according to the local newspaper the Phuketwan. Items that were missing included Bean’s wallet, motorcycle and cell phone, which was switched off on Nov. 25, the Phuketwan reports.
“He has not returned to his bungalow,” Lynne Bean said. “I searched his bungalow and did not find a single clue as to where he may have gone.”
Meanwhile, at least three ATM withdrawals near his Phuket home have been made from Bean’s bank accounts, according to the Phuketwan.
Bean’s parents think their son is the person who made two of those withdrawals based on video surveillance, but it’s hard to be sure because the person in the video kept a motorcycle helmet on while using the ATM, they said. His parents are currently trying to obtain copies of the other surveillance video, Lynne Bean said.
Lynne Bean has offered a 50,000 baht ($1,646) reward for finding her son and put up fliers all over the island, including the local hospitals, she said. Phuket is about 200 square miles in size and has a population of around 525,000, including foreigners, according to the Phuketwan.
Bean’s disappearance is as much of a surprise to his parents as his friends both in Aspen and Thailand.
“We have talked at length with his many friends in Thailand,” Lynne Bean said. “Everyone is worried and actively looking for him, but nobody knows where he is. ... All of the conversations that Brett and I had in the weeks before he was due to come home were totally normal. He was ready to come home and ready to be on his skis again.”
John Kneiper, Snowmass ski and snowboard school manager for SkiCo, described Bean as a longtime co-worker and good friend. His disappearance has shocked many of his Aspen friends and clients who were expecting to see him this season, he said.
“You can imagine it’s a very difficult situation for everybody,” Kneiper said.
Some of Bean’s Aspen friends have also shared the Phuketwan’s updates on social media sites like Facebook in the hope that the word will get out and possibly lead to his discovery.
Meanwhile, Bean’s parents plan on returning to Phuket to continue the search.
“We remain hopeful,” Lynne Bean said.
If you have any information about Bean’s disappearance, contact the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok by calling its international number at 02 2054049 or after hours at 02 2054000.