The family released a statement overnight confirming an unidentified witness identified 25-year-old Rye Hunt booking an apartment in Copacabana the same afternoon he stormed out of Galeao International Airport after arguing with his travelling companion over their next travel destination.
Mr Hunt had planned a six-month world trip with mate Mitch Sheppard, starting in Thailand for two weeks, South and Central America for two months — including seven days in Cancun followed by a bus trip to Acapulco — before moving onto a two-month trip around Europe, finishing off in Munich, Germany, for Oktoberfest.
But since vanishing into thin air on May 21, no one knows whe-re the Tasmanian is, and numerous personal items, including his backpack, have been found by authorities.
Mr Hunt was last seen on CCTV footage at the airport after engaging in the fight with Mr Sheppard.
His sister, Romany Brodribb told ABC local radio Mr Sheppard remained in Rio after his friend failed to appear, and is committed to finding his friend.
“After Rye disappeared, Mitchell has been incredibly upset and worried and scared,” she said.
“He has made the comment that he won’t leave without Rye.”
The CCTV footage shows Mr Hunt dressed in a green Boston Celtics basketball jersey, denim shorts, a black cap and carrying a large traveller’s backpack before he grabbed a cab.Mr Hunt went to “cool off” after the May 21 disagreement but vanished after footage revealed he hopped a taxi at the airport instead of meeting his mate to catch a flight to Bolivia.
It was 2:30pm local time in Rio.
The travelling duo had agreed to meet after half-an-hour, but in a strange twist Mr Hunt chose a new direction.
New information reveals Mr Hunt checked into the room at Copacabana one hour after the airport stoush, at 3:30pm.
Almost three-hours later, at 6:20pm, Rye left the apartment, whe-re his personal items, including a laptop, travel bags and a camera were later discovered.
But Mr Hunt’s passport, wallet and iPhone have yet to be found.
While initial reports suggested there was no activity on his card, Mr Hunt’s family has confirmed a purchase was recorded at 6:22pm that same day. It is not known what that item was.
But Mr Hunt’s movements after that are unknown, and 10 days into the search, his family are anxiously awaiting news.
He has not used his social media accounts and doesn’t appear to have used his phone since going missing.
The family of Mr Hunt says he had a verbal stoush with Mr Sheppard over the pair’s travel plans, and were at Galeao International Airport to book a flight to Bolivia.
“They hadn’t booked a flight; they went to the airport with the intention of buying a ticket and looked online for flights,” Ms Brodribb told news.com.au.
But when a fight erupted between the pair over the destination, Mr Hunt stormed off and was never to be seen again.
“They had a disagreement. My brother, as much as I love him to absolute bits, if he gets a bit grumpy about something he needs a little time to cool off sometimes,” Ms Brodribb said.
“I believe the disagreement had something to do with Bolivia and when they should be going and what they should do when they get there.
“He and Mitch had been travelling for seven weeks. It was the first disagreement they’d had in that time.”
Ms Brodribb suspects the long-time friends had the disagreement, Mr Hunt “got into a grump”, and Mr Sheppard suggested the pair “cool off” before meeting up in half an hour.
“I suspect that Rye probably was grumpy with Mitch and has left the airport and jumped,” Ms Brodribb said.
“The information is fairly sketchy. We know he was still in the city when he disappeared, but we haven’t been given an exact location of whe-re.”
Before embarking on the adventure, Mr Hunt posted that he was “leaving Western Australia indefinitely” and “was unsure of what the future has instore”.
Mr Hunt, f-rom Hobart, posted a message to friends on Facebook on April 7 before the big trip, thanking “everyone that’s helped me out along the way”.
“Throwin’ a massive Shukkas out to all the gnarley dudes and ladies I met throughout my time in Kalgoorlie and Perth,” Mr Hunt wrote.
“Embarking on an adventure now to see the world over the next few months. unsure of what the future has instore for us, stay safe everybody, hope to see you all upon our return.”
Mr Sheppard posted on April 6: “What are the chances! Today we are leaving Australia, on an adventure to travel parts of Asia, South America and Europe.
“So I guess we’ll see everyone on the back end of this bender. Until then stay safe every body and we’ll see you when we get back”.
After a successful GoFundMe campaign, which has so far raised more than AU$40,000, Mr Hunt’s uncle and girlfriend, Bonnie Cuthbert, will fly to Brazil to co-ordinate the search later this week.
The brother of Mr Sheppard will also go to offer support.
Mr Hunt grew up in Tasmania and had been working in Kalgoorlie until he left the country on April 1.
He is an experienced traveller, having also visited Southeast Asia and New Zealand.
A social media campaign to #findrye has been shared across Australia and South America.
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