Family of missing Warren man hoping for safe return

A vehicle used by the State Police Dive Team pictured during Thursday’s search.

SHERMAN, N.Y. — For the past five years, Sven Blumquist has camped out at the Great Blue Heron Music Festival in Sherman, N.Y.

With a passion for music and the outdoors, the Conewango Township resident looked forward to the three-day festival known for its rural location far from most amenities. The site is surrounded by heavily wooded areas marked by patches of open fields and small ponds.

“It was his favorite music festival. He wouldn’t miss it,” said Blumquist’s sister, Heather Burkett.

Local police have been searching the Blue Heron grounds for the 23-year-old Blumquist after he was last seen walking away from his campsite around 1 a.m. Saturday. Family of the Warren County native said he was in search of music when he left most of his belongings and ventured into the nearby woods.

Blumquist has not been seen or heard from since Saturday.

Photo submitted by New York State Police A K-9 unit near the site of the Great Blue Heron Music Festival in Sherman.

“He pretty much just walked away,” Burkett said Thursday. “He heard music and wanted to go listen. He got up and went and never came back.”

On Thursday, local K-9 units scoured various areas near the Blue Heron. The Conewango Township Police Department is heading the investigation, though officers from several agencies – including the New York State Police, Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Forest Rangers – are assisting.

A message to Conewango police seeking an update on the search effort wasn’t returned Thursday.

Burkett drove from her home outside of Pittsburgh when she heard of her brother’s disappearance. She said it isn’t like him to walk away for an extended time without notifying anyone of his whereabouts.

“Never in his life has he ever done anything like this before,” she said, noting that she took part in several searches before returning to her parents’ home in Warren when he didn’t turn up.

In a joint statement, Julie and Steve Rockcastle, co-owners of the Heron Farm and Event Center, said they have been working with local authorities since being made aware of Blumquist’s disappearance. Their statement reads:

“Police, family, and friends searched again (Thursday) on the grounds of the Great Blue Heron Music Festival. There has been no evidence of Sven’s whereabouts. Since we first learned of his disappearance on Monday, the Great Blue Heron Music Festival has been deeply concerned about Sven and has been working with family, law enforcement and the state (Department of Environmental Conservation) to search the property.

“We’ve done everything possible to support the family and friends of Sven who have been here every day this week.

“We have always invested in the safety of our patrons and there has never been a situation as serious as this before. We are hopeful that Sven will be found soon and reunited with his family and friends.”

Three of Blumquist’s backpacks as well as his keys were recovered by friends at the campsite. Items he purchased at Walmart shortly before attending the music festival were also found.

Burkett said police “pinged” Blumquist’s phone early on in the search and returned with a location about a mile and a half away from his campsite near Bailey Hill Road. No other locations have come back after follow-up pings, Burkett said citing police.

“The first couple of days I thought he might have just met with some friends trying to have a good time,” Burkett said, “but I haven’t met or heard from one person who said they saw him after he was last seen.”

“He left his backpacks, clothes, and underwear. He completely walked away with nothing,” she said. “Every day this goes on I’m shattered a little more.”

Burkett hopes someone may have seen her brother and have information on his whereabouts. She said she hopes his unique first name will help people remember possibly running into him at some point over the weekend.

“He’s a great person,” she said. “I just want him to be OK. He’s so smart – his mind is so brilliant. He was a Boy Scout for 10 years.”

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