Tara Perry said she watched Derek Seehausen bust dorky dance moves as he flirted with women Aug. 5 at a Hollywood nightclub. Three days later, Erin Meisel said she said “hi” to him in passing at the hospital where they worked.
“He was smiling and having fun,” Perry said. “That‘s what’s saddening to us. I don’t know if there was something else to notice.”
The two women were among the last friends to talk with Seehausen – a top student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC – before he disappeared.
He was last seen on surveillance footage, shortly after midnight Aug. 6, walking by a 76 gas station on the 200 block of Alvarado Street with $200 and his driver’s license. He has been missing now for more than a month.
“It’s just as bizarre to me as it is to you,” said Shuhan He, a friend and classmate.
Some friends speculated that Seehausen wanted to vanish, perhaps stressed by the rigors of medical school and the looming transition into residency.
They said he loved hiking and camping in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains. He was fit too – recently placing fifth in his age group for an Iron Man competition at Lake Placid and climbing Half Dome in sandals. It is plausible, they said, that he retreated into the wilderness.
“He’s extraordinary determined,” said his mother, Jean Gadra. “That’s why we’ve said if was planning to do this, he of course did a good job.”
In high school, Seehausen would wash dishes after family meals and remember family members’ birthdays without prompting, she said.
“I cannot imagine him doing this to his family,” she added.
Whatever the reason, private investigator Thomas Martin says he believes that Seehausen is alive.
Seehausen’s family and friends are desperate to find him.
“As you can all imagine, this is an unimaginable nightmare for our family,” Gadra said. “If you knew Derek, he’d be the last person to do this. We love him, and we want him back.”
Gadra said that shortly before he vanished, Seehausen, who grew up in Philadelphia, was making plans with family to celebrate his graduation in the spring. He posted a video of himself to his Facebook page scuba diving in kelp, “hamming it up with a lobster.”
“Derek was full of life … he said he was living the dream in California, and I knew we’d never get him back,” she said.
Asking the public to join their search, she said, “is our best and last hope finding our son.”
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