Ground, air search resumes for missing Stratford man

Published on March 4, 2016

The search for a Stratford man reported missing Wednesday night   resumed early this morning in the Riverdale area.

Sixty-five-year-old Dr. Donald Stephens has not been seen since he went for a run early Wednesday.

Cpl. Scott Stevenson of the RCMP said the search resumed about 7 a.m. today with officers from the detachment, a police dog and members of P.E.I.’s Ground Search and Rescue team taking part.

A Canadian Armed Forces helicopter from CFB Greenwood was also slated to return to P.E.I. to take part in the search.

Stevenson said the RCMP staffed a command post all through the night.

The search had to be called off   when darkness made the wooded area around Riverdale unsafe.

"Terrain out there is very icy, very steep and dangerous," said   Stevenson.

 No trace of Stephens has been found since the discovery of his truck.

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

"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 Wednesday 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.

A search-and-rescue helicopter from CFB Greenwood and a second helicopter, an army Griffon aircraft, were also tasked to join the effort.

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

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.