The Swiss tourist had planned the trip of a lifetime: taking LSD while on vacation at Disneyland Paris. What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, as the 32-year-old engineer discovered this past weekend. He wound up in jail on narcotics charges after disappearing into a pond and launching a 130-person search with helicopters and dogs, only to turn up hours later, naked and confused, on a quiet residential street about a mile away.
The misadventure began Friday evening, when the man's 30-year-old girlfriend slipped him the hallucinogenic drug, according to Le Parisien. Almost immediately, he fell into a man-made lake in Adventureland, near Captain Hook's Pirate Ship and the menacing grimace of Skull Rock from "Peter Pan."
When he didn't resurface, his girlfriend grew nervous. At around 8:30 p.m. Friday, the park began to close up for the night, and she alerted staff that he was still missing. The French newspaper didn't indicate whether the woman had also taken LSD but did note that she "did not seem to be in possession of all her means." (The couple have not been named in French media accounts, in accordance with European privacy laws.)
For hours, worried Disneyland employees combed the park, but there was no sign of the Swiss engineer. He hadn't climbed onto the pirate ship, or hopped on the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril ride, or hauled himself onto Pirates' Beach. The search party came to include 10 divers, 10 policemen, 30 firefighters and 80 Disneyland Paris employees, Le Parisien reported. By then, it had grown dark, making it harder for them to peer into the lagoon circling Adventureland, and dogs and a police helicopter with a thermal camera were brought in for backup.
Early the next morning, as the search continued, a 44-year-old man driving home from work came across an odd sight in the town of Chessy, a little more than a mile from Disneyland Paris.
"I came face to face with a naked man," the driver, who asked only to be identified as Benoit, told Le Parisien. "He was walking in the middle of the road. He did not have a centimeter of clothes on him and he was barefoot."
The man was calmly making his way down Chemin de Fosss Rouges, a tranquil tree-lined street where cottages and large villas sit behind hedges and imposing gates. "I stopped, got out of the car and went to meet him," Benoit told the paper. "I wanted to know what a naked man was doing 300 meters from my home."
The nude man, who by then was completely dry, had scratches all over his arms and legs. "He didn't remember anything," Benoit said. Somewhat problematically, he also didn't speak French.
Eventually, the two realized they could communicate in English, and the mysterious naked man explained that he had taken LSD as part of a bet that he made with friends, and that his girlfriend was probably worried. Benoit offered to call her, but the man was also unable to remember the number.
With his initial apprehension dissipating, Benoit realized that the man was harmless and also horribly lost. He put the stranger in his car and ran inside his house to get a pair of rugby shorts and a T-shirt "so that he could cover himself up," he told Le Parisien. Then, he dropped his baffled passenger off at the park's edge, having somehow gathered that the man's strange journey had begun at Disneyland Paris.
Rescuers found the man there at around 1:15 a.m., and he and his girlfriend were arrested for narcotics use, according to Le Parisien, and taken to the police station in Chessy.
But authorities evidently felt the couple had been through enough, because they were released Saturday afternoon after spending less than a day in jail. Le Parisien reported that both received a "rappel a la loi" for drug use, which roughly translates to "reminder of the law." The citation, which doesn't get added to a person's official criminal record, is typically handed out when a prosecutor chooses not to press charges.
Disneyland Paris, likewise, was unfazed by the incident. Park officials told Le Parisien that the hours-long search didn't disrupt their regular operations or a 5K race that took place the same evening. "The visitors did not even realize that there was a problem," a source told the paper.
It remains unclear how the man surfaced from the Adventureland lake and left the park without his girlfriend noticing, what happened to all his clothes, and where he went for several hours while rescuers were frantically searching for him.
But initial news reports about the disappearance at least solved one mystery for Benoit, who had been wondering about the chain of events that led a severely confused naked man to materialize in front of his car.
"It was my wife who, seeing the article, explained to me what had happened!" he told Le Parisien.