A 23-year-old Oak Park native who was reportedly kidnapped overseas is doing fine in his Amman, Jordan home.
Taylor Luck, a 2003 Oak Park and River Forest High School graduate, works as editor and reporter for the Jordan Times. He was vacationing in nearby Syria while the newspaper was closed for Ramadan, said his mother Louann Luck, who lives in Oak Park.
Taylor Luck and Holi Chmela, 27, a former intern at the Jordan Times, first arrived in Beirut, Lebanon on Sept. 29, according to the Associated Press. Luck was expected back in Amman on Oct. 5. When he wasn’t back that day, his mother called the Jordan Times to voice her worries about her son.
In an interview with the Jordan Times, Luck said he and his colleague were kidnapped. They hopped in a cab to take them over the border from Lebanon into Syria.
However, the driver veered off the main road, locked the doors, and demanded money from Luck and Chmela, according to the report. The pair refused, and shortly after, the taxi was pulled over by a military vehicle in Syria.
They were imprisoned from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8, accused of being illegally smuggled across the border, according to the report. They were about to be transferred to a prison in Damascus, but authorities recognized them from media reports, and Luck and Chmela were instead transferred to the U.S. embassy.
“We may have exercised poor judgment, but at the end of the day, we were victims,” Luck said in the Jordan Times report.
Louann Luck talked to her son for 15 minutes around 2 p.m., Central time last Thursday. Luck spoke from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria, where it’s eight hours later than Illinois time. He had just been released from Syrian custody.
“He said that he was treated well and he’s feeling fine, and, of course, he’s glad to be released,” she told Wednesday Journal Thursday afternoon.
“He did mange to survive in a very bad situation with just his wits about him,” she said a few days later.
Luck attended Holmes Elementary and Emerson Junior High (now Brooks Middle School) and graduated from OPRF High School in 2003. Theater and swimming were some of his interests while living in the village, his mother said. He previously worked a summer job at Rehm Pool and was active in the First United Church in Oak Park.
Luck graduated from Beloit College in Wisconsin last year with a major in political science and a minor in international relations.
He studied abroad his junior year in Jordan, where he learned to speak Arabic. He started as an intern at the English-language Jordan Times and became a full-time employee there 18 months ago. The paper is geared toward expatriates living in Jordan. Luck resumed his work at the newspaper Sunday, according to a report posted on their website.