Canadian pub owner Wes Stobbe never expected to see his face in a magazine, let alone one where he’s claimed to be the Olivia Newton-John‘s boyfriend who is presumed dead after he disappeared on a fishing trip off the coast of California in 2005.
But that’s exactly what happened when friends sent articles that pictured Strobbe and his wife, Bridget, lounging in Sayulita, Mexico. The headline? “Olivia Newton-John’s missing lover Patrick McDermott found.”
Australian outlet New Idea first published the image, with the National Enquirer and other publications also claiming it as proof that McDermott faked his own death.
“It was such a bizarre occurrence … I just burst out laughing when I looked at it,” Stobbe told The Brandon Sun. “I started reading the article and I thought, ‘Wow, this is too strange.’”
Stobbe immediately recognized himself in the photo, taken in October in Sayulita, where the wood worker is building a house.
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“We recognized the location where the photo was taken. It’s a common place for us to sit … It was taken basically right on the edge of the beach. We sit at that picnic table quite often to have a drink or a meal there,” he said. “I don’t have a recollection of the moment the photo was taken … it’s not that unusual for people to be taking photos along the beach.”
While Strobbe doesn’t see much resemblance between himself and the cameraman whom Newton-John met in 1996, his wife had some fun after being identified as McDermott’s “German lover.”
“I guess it’s kind of exotic to be seen as a German lover,” Stobbe said. “We got a pretty good laugh out of it, anyways.”
“I dated a little bit, but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with him and then bam!” she says of falling for Easterling a few years after McDermott mysteriously went missing. The singer also said Easterling has helped her move on from the “traumatic” ordeal of reports claiming McDermott had faked his death and was living in Mexico.
“One of the hardest things is not knowing,” says Newton-John of what actually happened to McDermott. “I’m very lucky I have a wonderful, beautiful husband who is just so loving and fantastic. I always tell my friends you’re never too old to find love.”