RCMP suspend search for Dr. Donald Stephens missing in Bonshaw Hills, P.E.I.

Queens District RCMP have suspended the search for 65-year-old Donald Stephens for tonight.

Search to resume Friday morning

RCMP are searching the Bonshaw Trails for Dr. Donald Stephens (CBC/RCMP)

Queens District RCMP have suspended the search for 65-year-old Donald Stephens for tonight. They expect to resume Friday morning.

Police have been searching for Stephens in Bonshaw, P.E.I. and Riverdale, P.E.I., about 25 kilometres west of Charlottetown.

Police received a report at 11 p.m. Wednesday when the Stratford man failed to return home. Stephens regularly uses the trails in the area for exercise.

Stephens is described as 5 feet 11 inches, 180 pounds, brown thinning hair with a slim and fit build and last seen wearing running clothes.

He is is a retired general practitioner who does some work as a surgical assistant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Stephens is a father and husband. He is also a marathon runner and has done ultra-marathons.

Cold temperatures create challenge for search

Officers had to deal with changing weather conditions through the night.

"The weather certainly has been a problem for us," said Sgt. Leanne Butler of the RCMP. "It rained and then it snowed, it's very slushy in area, it's cold."   

A search for 65-year-old Donald Stephens continues in the Bonshaw Hills. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Temperatures on P.E.I. took a major swing from 9 C at 9 p.m. Wednesday night to -9 C by 7 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Cell phone left in vehicle

Stephens' family found his truck Wednesday evening, when they went looking for him in the areas he usually runs. That's when they contacted police.

"We have found the truck that belonged to the male that he went to that area in, so we do have a starting point," said Sgt. Butler.  

Police said Stephens left his cellphone in his vehicle.

A Cormorant helicopter is searching the area Stephens is missing in the Bonshaw Hills. (Donna Allen/CBC)

RCMP Cpl. Al Vincent said police don't know when Stephens started his run, but his family got worried around supper time, as they hadn't heard from him.

Police said he could have set out anytime after 8 a.m. and before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and one of the challenges of the search is they don't know how long Stephens has been outside — or how much ground he could have covered on his run.

Search focused on hilly area with steep banks

The search is concentrated in the area of the Bolger Park Road, it runs from the Riverdale Road to the Green Road. The truck was located 1 kilometre from the Riverdale Road. 

RCMP and searchers will have to deal with steep terrain along the Bolger Park Road in the search for a missing 65-year-old man. (Donna Allen/CBC)

The area has a lot of hills with steep banks. The West River runs through the area between the Bolger Park Road and the Bonshaw Provincial Park. 

RCMP estimate there are about 15 to 20 kilometres of trails in the area where they suspect Stephens could be.

Helicopters and dogs called in to help search

Two helicopters arrived to aid in the search. Police were also assisted by the RCMP Police Dog Services and the P.E.I. Ground Search and Rescue team. 

P.E.I. Ground Search and Rescue are assisting the RCMP in a search for a man missing in Riverdale, P.E.I. in the Bonshaw Hills area of the Bolger Park Road. (Donna Allen/CBC)

The ground search team joined the search at 4 a.m. with more than 30 people assisting. 

"We will continue searching and bring in resources as required, and we will continue to update as the day goes on," Butler added.

RCMP say anyone who may have seen Stephens yesterday should contact them.