FIVE years ago today, 16-year-old Donny Govan vanished from an Echuca campsite.
Never to be seen again.
Yet his Ballarat family is still holding out hope that their beloved son and brother is alive.
Police believe Donny may have drowned in the river, but sister Rachael O’Keane said there were several reasons she believed her brother was out there somewhere.
‘‘There has not been a body found, there has been no information leading us to believe that he is dead and hope is the only thing that keeps us sane and continuing the search for him,’’ she said.
‘‘There is a possibility he may be out there and know we are looking for him and not want to get in contact with us, but we love him and hope he knows that. Not giving up on him must prove that and we will not give up searching for him until we have answers.’’
Although Donny’s story has received a lot of media attention, there have been few leads into his disappearance on September 1, 2012.
Donny was camping with his sister and friends, about 1km north of Braund Rd, when he began to act paranoid and erratically.
He begged his sister to drive him home to Ballarat, but she had been drinking, so offered to take him the next morning.
Without warning, he bolted down an unsealed track before darting into dense bushland, about 8.30pm.
There have been several reported sightings of Donny since his disappearance, but all have led to dead ends.
‘‘Over the past five years, we have had a lot of time to think of scenarios as to what has happened to him, where he is and who he could be with but because we have had no leads we always end up back with having no clue,’’ Ms O’Keane said.
‘‘As Donny was 16 at the time, we also struggle with the fact he may look different now. He might have grown a beard and his appearance may have changed. We are still looking for that boy and he might not look like that now.’’
According to Ms O’Keane the past five years has been extremely traumatic for the family, but today will be the hardest day yet.
‘‘The longer we do not have answers, the harder it gets,’’ she said.
‘‘With a missing person in the family, time does not heal and pain, if anything, gets harder as time goes on with the reality that we still do not know where he is even after this length of time.’’
She appealed to anyone who may know of Donny’s whereabouts to come forward and encouraged families to appreciate what they had.
‘‘Do not take any moment with loved ones for granted,’’ she said.
Anyone with any information about Donny is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800333000 or visit www.crimestoppersvic.com.au