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.