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Brett Bean, the Phuket surfer who has sparked a continuing mystery

Surfer Vanishes: Family, Police Mystified

Friday, December 14, 2012
PHUKET: Brett Bean, if you are reading this, please email your father in California or give your mother a call on Phuket. They are both worried and perplexed.

The mystery of the disappearance of American surfer Brett Chapman Bean remains a puzzle of unusual proportions, with developments still to come.

Where is Brett and why did he just vanish into thin air? Is he alive or dead? Is there a missing piece of the puzzle that only he comprehends?

All these questions and more are running through the minds of journalists, US embassy officials and Phuket police. None of them have experienced a mystery quite like it.

''It's as though we are in a movie,'' one onlooker said today. ''But none of us can quite figure out the plot, or the ending.''

The puzzle is even more pronounced for Lynne Bean, the mother who caught a flight from California to Phuket to try to locate her 43-year-old son, and for Naomi Smith, a friend from Aspen, Colorado, who came along to help.

Here was a man with a series of flight bookings and a plane to catch, as he usually does each year, from Phuket to Los Angeles.

About now, Brett was due to start his job as a skiing instructor in Colorado.

Spending part of each year surfing and hanging out on Phuket and the other part of the year skiing in Colorado . . . this is the stuff of dreams for many.

So, where is Brett? And why did he just vanish? It seems there will be few answers until Brett Bean is found, alive or dead.

Footage taken at and near two Phuket ATMs where money was drawn from his account after he disappeared shows a man who is the right build and shape to be Brett.

But because the man is wearing a motorcycle helmet, even his family are not prepared to say conclusively that it's him.

Friends have come forward to report that the Brett Bean they chatted to and lunched with on Phuket this year was perhaps a little more reclusive than in previous years.

Yet there was no change in his even, consistent temperament, no real sense that anything had changed or was different this time.

Reports about sightings of Mr Bean have come from all over Thailand. All of them have proven to be unsubstantiated so far.

Police have yet to find a crime has been committed.

Where are you, Brett Bean?


Brett is seen by a neighbor riding his motorbike down the hill near his Kata-Karon bungalow.


At 12:20pm Brett's mother receives an email from her son saying he is about to leave the house for lunch with some friends and confirms his flight the next day from Phuket to Los Angeles, via Bangkok and Hong Kong.


At 11:40am a man of Western appearance withdraws 2000 baht from Brett's bank account at an ATM by a 7-Eleven store on Nanai Rd, Patong. Still wearing his motorcycle helmet the man enters the 7-Eleven store, makes a purchase, then rides away on a motorcycle similar to the one owned by Brett.

At 9:30pm Brett's AirAsia flight from Phuket airport departs. He has not checked in for the flight.


Brett's parents wait for him at Los Angeles airport. They remain at the airport until the last plane for
the day arrives.


Brett's parents return to the airport in case he is on a different flight. Brett's parents contact airlines and learn he did not check in for his Bangkok or Hong Kong flights.

Brett's father contacts the US Embassy in Bangkok and attempts to contact Phuket police.


Desperate to find out what has happened to his son, Brett's father contacts PhuketWan seeking possible information from local news reports.


Clare Bickerton, a friend of Brett's, says she is ''99 per cent certain'' she has seen the 43-year-old surfer riding along beach road in Karon, western Phuket. He was ''looking too big for his bike,'' she said.

''When he rode past me he was wearing a hoodie. He had sunglasses on, and he seemed really focussed.

''He had some plain white plastic bags in his motorcycle basket. I'm pretty sure it was him. He's such a tall guy and so his knees are up around his ears when he rides a bike.''


At 10am a withdrawal of 1500 baht is made from Brett's account at an ATM at the Siam Commercial Bank branch near Chalong Circle in southern Phuket, on the other side of the island.

Police examine Brett's bungalow, back from the beach in Kata-Karon. Officers find Mr Bean's passport, a small amount of cash, flight departure information, a newspaper clipping and a map of the Thai province of Udon Thani, north of Bangkok.

Mr Bean's surfboard, which a close neighbor has never seen him carrying, is also inside the bungalow. Clothing is hanging outside to dry.

Among the items that police cannot locate are Mr Bean's wallet, his grey Honda motorcycle and the mobile telephone that was switched off around the time he was due to catch a flight off Phuket more than a week earlier.

Brett's landlord says he has paid six months' rent in advance.


Brett's mother Lynne boards a flight to Phuket from Los Angeles.


Mrs Bean arrives in Phuket in the evening along with Brett's friend, Naomi. They are taken to Brett's bungalow with police detectives and a Phuket US Embassy warden, Denny Bowman.


Brett's mother gives a statement to police at Karon police station. The statement allows police to begin inquiries with Brett's bank and phone companies.

Mrs Bean discovers the two transactions made from Brett's account on November 27 and December 5.


Brett's mother offers a reward of 50,000 baht for anyone who finds her son.


Police collect CCTV footage of the ATMs where the two withdrawals were made.

Mrs Bean looks at the footage at the Karon police station to see if she can identify the man pictured at the ATM. The photographs are inconclusive because the man continues to wear the motorcycle helmet.


With little information about Brett's disappearance, Mrs Bean and Naomi begin to distribute missing person flyers around the surfing haunts of Kata-Karon.

BRETT BEAN is 6 feet 2 inches tall, slender, and has blond hair and blue eyes. He sometimes grows a beard and at other times goes clean-shaven.

He has two tattoos, one on his left forearm and the other of a snake on his right thigh.

Anyone who thinks they might have seen Brett should contact the US Embassy in Bangkok on 02 2054049 or after hours on 02 2054000, or write to Phuketwan via the comments space at the end of this article.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Has anybody checked the roads where he could of accidently run off into the jungle? Where he can't be seen from the road? A guy I know did that and it took 3 weeks before anybody found him. He was in a car, too.

Posted by logbags on December 14, 2012 16:09


wasn't there a map to some where in the North East? Perhaps contact the local papers up there too with a pic. So sorry for the family this must be horrific.
Have they checked the hospitals too for accident victims?

Posted by Vfaye on December 14, 2012 17:05


how much money brett had in his account? is there a possibility that i plan to get some money from a gold shop or even bank? i just have a feeling that he maybe took a break from everything and is hiding somewhere in thailand. not in phuket...

Posted by mike on December 14, 2012 17:34


So who are these friends who he was going to have lunch with? This is the last thing that he informed his family. Where did he go for lunch, surely these people should have information

Posted by Kay on December 15, 2012 11:13

Friday January 27, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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