May 23, 2006

Missing CFL kicker reappears

Family asks for privacy while O’Mahony brings ‘this situation to a close’

By Sean Fitz-Gerald,
National Post

Three days after he seemed to vanish from an airport in Calgary, with his luggage left unattended and his family left to worry, Canadian Football League kicker Duncan O’Mahony has been located and is said to be safe.

There are a number of questions left to be answered, but the most important ones were addressed in a short media release issued by the player’s family through the Winnipeg Blue Bombers late yesterday afternoon.

“Duncan’s whereabouts has been determined and contact between him and the family has been made,” the statement said. “The family wishes to advise that he is safe and that they require privacy in order to bring this situation to a close.

“We hope you respect our wishes and are very grateful for the media’s assistance in this matter.”

O’Mahony has gone missing before. The five-year CFL veteran missed a workout without warning while playing for the B.C. Lions last fall, an episode that was attributed to personal reasons and led to him getting “help,” according to Lions head coach Wally Buono.

“I think, as I said then, there were issues personally that he was dealing with,” Buono said yesterday, before O’Mahony was found. “And I believe, at that time, he got the help, professionally, that he needed. It appeared that he was making good progress.”

Buono did not elaborate, citing confidentiality and his respect for the player.

“Whatever [the first incident] was, it was resolved at the time and it was excused as just an absence from practice,” O’Mahony’s agent, Ross Gurney, said yesterday. “This seems to be a bit more substantial.”

O’Mahony drew international attention over the weekend as news outlets from across Canada and the United States picked up on the sketchy details of his journey, which was supposed to have taken him to his first training camp with the Blue Bombers.

The 29-year-old flew to Calgary from his home in Abbotsford, B.C., on Friday, and was supposed to have caught a connecting flight to Winnipeg after a 45-minute layover. There were reports O’Mahony was planning to have dinner with a friend in Calgary, but missed the meal, too.

Airline officials paged him, twice. Then they removed his luggage from the final leg to Winnipeg. Until late yesterday afternoon, no one had heard a word from O’Mahony.

O’Mahony was signed shortly before training camp with the hope of becoming Winnipeg’s punter, working in tandem with placekicker Troy Westwood. He had been released by the Lions during the off-season.

Now, the Blue Bombers are left to scramble for a replacement. O’Mahony has been placed on the suspended list, and Taman could not say if he will ever make it to the Manitoba capital.

O’Mahony was found in Calgary by his family. It is believed his mother contacted Gurney, his Vancouver-based representative, after he was discovered.

The family did not file a missing persons report with Calgary police.

“I’m so glad that he’s OK,” Gurney said. “But, I mean, you anxiously await [to hear] what happened.”