Southern Alberta Newspapers
Jayden Kolesar will be back on Canadian soil this weekend.
After a lengthy ordeal, in which the 22-year-old Lethbridge man was stranded in India, first in a jail and then in a mental health hospital, Kolesar was to receive his release papers yesterday (Thursday). He was to be released from hospital at 10 p.m. Alberta time, after family members worked feverishly on the young man’s exit visa.
“It’s been a hectic three weeks for sure,” said Dave Mankow, whose wife, Kelly, Jayden’s aunt, left for India March 3 with Jayden’s father, Wade Kolesar.
It all started in late February, when Kolesar was traveling through India. His motorbike broke down in what has been described as a rough part of the country, and somehow, Kolesar lost all of his paperwork, which included his passport. He’s been in custody since Feb. 27, as officials first picked him up when they found him wandering the streets.
Fortunately, Kolesar had memorized his passport number and his grandmother’s phone number, and the Canadian consulate was soon contacted. However, it would be a few days before his family knew his exact whereabouts.
“The police called the Canadian Embassy right away to come and get him, but apparently there was a huge Indian festival going on at the time and the consulate said they couldn’t pick him up right away,” said Mankow, who added Kolesar’s situation deteriorated from there, to a point where he was sent to the mental hospital in the northeast region of India.
He shouldn’t have stayed there for long, according to Mankow, as the courts delayed his release.
“The doctors and policemen all gave their blessing to let him out as soon as he got there, but this one judge had it in for him. He said he wasn’t sure he wasn’t a danger to himself or the public.”
Kolesar’s father and aunt worked tirelessly, day after day, making the two-hour drive an estimated seven or eight times for various court proceedings, in between four-hour trips to Calcutta to the Canadian Embassy.
“They put in 18-hour days each day chasing their tails,” said Mankow, who himself was hard at work Thursday putting together Kolesar’s exit visa, which he emailed to the hotel his wife was staying at, to be printed out for officials in that country.
In the end, the work put in by the duo in India, and countless friends and relatives back home, paid off, as it was expected Kolesar and his father and aunt would be on a plane Saturday and back in Calgary by Sunday.
“We still have baited breath,” Mankow told The Herald Thursday afternoon, as he was cautiously optimistic the saga would have a successful conclusion. “I’m sure it’s going to happen but they’ve said that before.”
Through it all, Mankow added his nephew, who had been in India on and off for two and half years, in between trips to Nepal and Australia, kept strong.
“I think it was a lot tougher on Ward and Kelly,” said Mankow, who added they were able to visit the hospital every day. “Jayden was very strong and he kept his witts about him.”