In recent weeks we spent several days searching for Anatoly Cholodenko of Tiberias, who was ultimately found dead last week. However we were requested not to broadcast the news of his death until today, when authorities fully verified that the body found was in fact his. On this far-away search we camped out near the hospital and forest in Tiberias. Police had reported that at least two witnesses saw Anatoly in the forest, and they asked us to focus on the forest area. While we did focus on the forest leading down to the Kinneret, we allocated as much as we could to also searching the nearby fields, the opposite direction of the forest. Due to lack of manpower and due to the fact that the police claimed to have checked the adjacent fields, we did not check deeper than 500 meters into those fields. The police had allegedly checked the fields sending jeeps, horses and even flying a helicopter to hover above. Ironically, he was found randomly by a farmer approximately 1.5 kilometers directly from the hospital in those fields. The very fields that the police claimed to have thoroughly searched. I don’t know the final definitive cause of death, but it seems he simply fell and hit his head, and laid dehydrated until he died, sometime within the first days of his disappearance.
We were only called in on the third or fourth day so it is unlikely we could have saved him. G-d knows we tried our best and applied basic common sense based on experience and the information we received from the police who remained loyal to the “strong testimony” about the alleged last sighting of Anatoly in the forest.
Anatoly would have been 52 on May 20. His body is being flown to his family in Toronto, to be buried aside his mother who died earlier this month. Our condolences to Polina and the rest of the family. We are sorry we could not help find him or recover his body sooner.