Ex-NBA Player, Girlfriend Vanish in South Pacific

ByABC News via logo
September 15, 2002, 9:55 PM

Sept. 16 -- A former NBA star and his girlfriend have not been heard from since July, but family members today told ABCNEWS' Good Morning Americathey were clinging to the hope the couple would be found alive.

Bison Dele, 33, who was known as Brian Williams during his basketball career, and his girlfriend Serena Karlan, 30, were last heard from in July.

Dele, who played both center and forward, was with a number of teams during his career, including the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Clippers and the 1997 NBA champion Chicago Bulls. Most recently, from 1997-99, he played for the Detroit Pistons.

After Dele walked away from a $35 million contract in 1999, he went to Lebanon to join friends in a water purification business, but later moved to Australia, and took up a carefree life that included motorcycling and surfing.

On July 4, Dele went off on a sailing adventure in the South Pacific. But now he is missing, along with the captain of his sailboat, Bertrand Saldo, and Karlan, his girlfriend of seven months. The group set sail from Moorea, Tahiti, and were headed to Hawaii via the remote Tuamoto and Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific.

Without a Trace

Family members, who have not heard from Dele or Karlan since July 8, reported them missing at sea and Karlan's parents said authorities had told them the case is now being treated as a murder investigation.

"In August, it was sort of a gradually mounting concern I felt like something needed to be looked into," Gael Ohlgren, Karlan's mother, told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.

Karlan's stepfather, Scott Ohlgren, says they are desperate for answers.

"You kind of get numb after a while," Ohlgren said. "You can only stay grim for so long and then "

Dele's 55-foot catamaran was found abandoned late last week in a harbor in Tahiti. It had been repainted and renamed. The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for Dele's brother, Miles Dabord, who had been with his brother and the group until the he flew back to the United States several weeks ago.