Search halted for night in Riverdale area for missing 65-year-old man

Nigel Armstrong
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Search operations will resume at daylight tomorrow for Dr. Donald Stephens

A large-scale search for a missing man has come to an end for the day as darkness makes the wooded area around Riverdale unsafe, said the RCMP.

"Terrain out there is very icy, very steep and dangerous," said Cpl. Scott Stevenson, RCMP spokesman, just before 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Search operations will resume at daylight tomorrow for Dr. Donald Stephens, 65, of Stratford, he said.

Stephens, from Stratford, is an ultra-marathon runner who makes use of the "Plan-B" trails through the Strathgartney, Churchill and Riverdale areas to train.

He was last seen Wednesday around 8 a.m. at his home, said Stevenson.

"The difficulty that we are having is we don't know what time he left home (Wednesday) morning," said Stevenson. "He is known to be a very long distance runner so we don't know how far he ran."

"It's not unlike him to run three or four hours at a time, and that is the area that he likes to run in."

Stephens' truck was found on the Bolger Park Road, which extends from the Riverdale Road to the Green Road.

Stephens was not known to run at night. When he did not return home by 6 p.m. Wednesday, his family members became worried and they started to look themselves.

They called the RCMP about 10 p.m.

The RCMP police services dog, Dutch, and his handler, Cpl. Marc Periard, spent all night searching the area.

He took a rest about 9 a.m. Thursday, while a dog team came over from Moncton to help.

After a rest and feeding, Dutch went back out, so there were two RCMP dogs working the area later Thursday.

Joining the search Thursday were approximately 35 members of the volunteer P.E.I. Ground Search and Rescue team.

Also involved was one search-and-rescue helicopter from CFB Greenwood and a second helicopter, an army Griffon aircraft, that has been tasked to join the effort.

"They spent approximately eight hours searching the area from the air," said Stevenson.

He said the P.E.I. police dog and at least one helicopter should be able to resume the search Friday unless another incident calls them away.

Stephens is described as 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 180 lbs. He has brown, thinning hair and a slim build. He is known to be very fit, being a long distance runner. He is believed to be wearing a running jacket and insulated running pants.

Anyone who might have seen a man running in the Bonshaw-Riverdale area is asked to contact Queens District RCMP at 902-368-9300, said Stevenson.

Organizations: RCMP, P.E.I. Ground Search

Geographic location: Riverdale, District RCMP, Stratford

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Recent comments

  • Rosa
    March 04, 2016 - 11:29

    Did they search the Peter's Road?

  • John
    March 03, 2016 - 21:50

    There are trials through the old campground on the south side of the highway!

  • worried
    March 03, 2016 - 15:16

    Very worrisome. I hope he is soon found safe and sound.

  • Joe Doe
    March 03, 2016 - 13:03


  • mutt
    March 03, 2016 - 11:20

    That's Dr Don Stevens. He is in very good shape for his age but pushes it. Extreme runner.

    • Anne
      March 03, 2016 - 13:20

      His name has already been you really think that comment is needed? Please think of his family during this difficult time. Please keep your comment to yourself as he is a very well respected man around his workplace and came to be quite a shock to the people who work with him that he is missing.

    • Bobby
      March 04, 2016 - 07:24

      Anne I can't say for sure, but I don't think mutt was trying to be disrespectful here. I agree some comments on these boards can be disrespectful and downright rude, but I took it as mutt trying to give insight to the man and where he might be. If he is an extreme runner like mutt says then he could be in an area where typically people would not run. It can also mean that he is quite a far distance from the area where they think he was running. I pray that Dr. Stephens is found safe and sound. I can only imagine how hard this is on everybody who knows him.