Renowned Irish filmmaker and photographer Ross McDonnell has been reported missing in New York City for over a week, sparking an intense search effort by authorities and pleas from friends and family for any information that could help locate him.
Last Seen at Fort Tilden Beach in Queens
The 44-year-old, originally from Howth just north of Dublin, was last seen late Saturday, November 4th, or early Sunday, November 5th, in the area of Fort Tilden Beach in the New York City borough of Queens, according to friends and police.
McDonnell, who lives in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill, was spotted on security camera leaving his apartment on Taaffe Place near Dekalb Avenue around 8:30 pm on November 4th.
Several days later, on November 7th, McDonnell’s bicycle was found locked to a stand at Fort Tilden Beach, which stoked fears that he had gone missing near the water. The discovery prompted police to search the beach area for clues to what happened to the renowned filmmaker.
Belongings Sought as Possible Clues
Authorities are specifically looking for some of McDonnell’s belongings, including a red puffy North Face jacket, black and white sneakers, dark-colored khaki pants, and a black North Face backpack. They believe these items could provide vital clues as to his disappearance if located.
McDonnell’s family and friends urged anyone who may have picked up his belongings not to be afraid, saying they just wanted to find them as soon as possible to aid search efforts. His family said the belongings can be dropped off anonymously at the nearby FDNY Engine 329 station.
Talented Filmmaker With Award-Winning Career
McDonnell is a highly accomplished director, producer, and cinematographer who has worked extensively in documentaries, commercials, and feature films in addition to his photography career.
The Dubliner won an Emmy award in 2021 for his cinematography on the Showtime docu-series “The Trade.” He earned another Emmy nomination in 2018 for directing the feature-length documentary “Elián” about a Cuban refugee boy caught in an international custody battle.
McDonnell’s other credits include the 2017 film “No Stone Unturned,” an examination of the 1994 Loughinisland massacre in Northern Ireland. His first feature, the 2009 documentary “Colony” about the global bee population collapse, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and earned him several major awards.
Intense Search Effort Underway
According to McDonnell’s friend Gene Gallerano, the filmmaker’s disappearance has sparked an intense, distressed search effort among friends and family over the past week.
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“It’s been a very, very emotionally heavy week,” Gallerano told the Irish Times. Some friends have taken to social media to post missing person fliers and urge anyone with knowledge of McDonnell’s whereabouts to contact authorities.
The NYPD said they have been scouring the area around Fort Tilden Beach, where it’s believed McDonnell went missing. They say the investigation remains ongoing, and they continue to follow any leads on his disappearance.
What Happened on the Beach?
Based on the discovery of his bicycle locked at Fort Tilden Beach days after he went missing, friends say it appears McDonnell had been on the beach and potentially went into the ocean.
However, the circumstances of exactly what transpired at the beach that night remain a mystery. Police have not indicated if they suspect foul play or have any evidence to suggest what happened after he apparently went to the beach that evening.
With no trace of McDonnell found yet, friends and family are holding out hope that he will be located safely somewhere. But many have expressed their worst fears that some tragic accident may have happened on the beach.
What Will Happen Next in the Search?
The NYPD says locating McDonnell’s missing belongings could be the key to determining what transpired the night he disappeared. If his backpack or clothing are found, it could provide clues or evidence as to what happened on the beach.
Authorities will likely continue scouring Fort Tilden Beach and the surrounding waters over the coming days and weeks. They will also look to see if any additional security camera footage reveals more about McDonnell’s movements that night.
Meanwhile, friends, family, and colleagues will keep up their efforts to spread the word about McDonnell’s disappearance. They are hopeful that all the attention and publicity could lead to a critical tip that helps the investigation.
The intense search is ongoing, and many remain hopeful the talented Irish filmmaker will be found safe somewhere. But with over a week gone by already since his disappearance, concerns are growing that he may have tragically died the night he went to Fort Tilden Beach.