Missing in Jacksonville

Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida are investigating the disappearance of 39-year-old Vernon Stephens late Friday night.

Vernon Stephens

Stephens' car was evidently broken down and unoccupied on the Mathews Bridge in Jacksonville, when it was struck by another car. That driver was transported to the hospital, but police have not located Mr. Stephens.

Authorities are unsure if he fell into the water below.

Emergency personnel, including the Coast Guard, searched the bridge area on Saturday and Sunday, but nothing has been found.

In 2004, safety measures for the bridge were improved after a vehicle collision occurred, and one of the drivers (Donna Campbell) fell to her death.

Reading about the search for Mr. Stephens reminded me of how simply being stuck on an Interstate bridge with traffic whizzing by is such a lousy feeling.

Do you just sit there and wait or get out of your vehicle and look under your hood?

Now with mobile phones, it is much easier to stay with your vehicle and get help, but several years ago there was always the dilemma of: walk to get someone or sit and wait for assistance?

I remember as a young patrol officer helping a stranded motorist stuck on a busy tall bridge.

I had all my lights activated, but after watching the crazy driving in my rearview mirror, I made the wise decision to buckle my seat belt while waiting.

Not ten minutes later, a driver lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the back of my cruiser.

My reward was a cut hand and a trip to the doctor for a shot.

My prayers are with the missing Vernon Stephens and his family--that there is another explanation for his disappearance.

Since the location is a high traffic area, police are hoping that a witness will come forward and provide information about the incident--either reporting the man walking from his vehicle prior to the crash or that he was standing nearby.

Such details would certainly help with the search.

He was last seen wearing a pink shirt, gray pants, and dress shoes.

Click here to read more of my missing persons post or here for my missing person monday posts


UPDATE 4/14/2014 @ 7:30 pm

Jacksonville police confirmed today that the body found by a fisherman in the water this morning is that of Vernon Stephens.

Reportedly, the find was about 3 miles downstream from the bridge. Police continue to investigate, and described the other driver as "inattentive" and "speeding" when he struck Stephens' disabled vehicle. My condolences to the deceased man's family.


Rachna Chhabria said...

My prayers with Vernon Stephen's family. Its scary how people just disappear.

Mary Kirkland said...

That's really sad. I hope they find him. People drive crazy everywhere. I wish they would remember that there are people close to them that can get hurt.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I hope they are able to figure out what happened.

messymimi said...

Well do i remember being stranded, more than once, and on a bridge a couple of times.

Let's hope he went to get help, and is safe.

Pearl said...

Oh, poor guy. There's something so inherently unsettling about someone missing. I just can't imagine how his family feels right now...

Greetings from Minneapolis,


Pat Hatt said...

Wow, I hope I never ever get stuck on a bridge. Hopefully they find him safe and sound

Stephanie Faris said...

Sadly, I have a feeling he's in the water. Here in TN, the department of transportation sends trucks around to wait with vehicles when a car is stranded. The flashing lights usually cause vehicles to slow down and proceed with caution. I do think people are usually safer inside the car, waiting for help. A teenage boy was killed here last week because he was changing his mom's tire. Hit and run.

Lydia Kang said...

I hope they find him alive and well somewhere, though I'm sadly doubtful.

Brian Miller said...

ah, i was betting he was a jumper....ugh...glad they found his body at least...

Unknown said...

I just really love this guy's face... I sure hope he's okay, and really appreciated your kind comments on his behalf!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Ugh. Total bummer for him and his family. *shudders*

jodeeluna said...

I so appreciate how you keep the memory of these missing persons alive. What a gift of grace that is for the families and friends.

ladyfi said...

Such a shame that people drive like crazy. Hope he turns up safe and sound.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That's so sad. I've never heard of this happening before. That's crazy how many accidents like that happen on bridges. You'd think motorists would be more careful on bridges.