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Missing study abroad student Kenny DeLand Jr. is alive

(NewsNation) — Kenny DeLand Jr. is alive and was able to speak to his parents, French Prosecutor Eric Vaillant said on Twitter Friday.

DeLand Jr. is a study abroad student at Saint John Fisher University in New York. He had been finishing up a semester at a university in the southeast part of France, near the border of Italy and Switzerland.

After he got on a train on Nov. 27, his family had not heard from him- until now. Surveillance video showed DeLand entering a store on Dec. 3, where he spent $8.40. 

Since then, there had been no messages, social media posts, bank charges or phone pings. This alarmed ths family as before this, the study abroad student had been “in contact with me almost daily,” said Ken DeLand Sr., Kenny’s father.

Vaillant, the public prosecutor of Grenoble, said previously that DeLand Jr. appeared to have left the area voluntarily, after telling “several people that he had arrived in France insufficiently prepared and that he had difficulty making friends.”

 His father, however, maintains that DeLand Jr. told them he was going exploring and did not mention having any difficulties.

“On the break, he traveled to Italy and he traveled by himself. He stayed in hostels and traveled up the coast, down the coast and took a lot of pictures. He was having a great time. And it just doesn’t make sense,” DeLand had said at the time. “It doesn’t add up to why he would be off the grid,”

Frustrating the family further was how they said the U.S. Embassy couldn’t release any information because DeLand Jr. didn’t sign a release, and they are bound by privacy laws. While he was missing, DeLand Jr.’s hometown held a vigil praying for his safe return.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.