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Searchers, emergency personnel discontinue search for Rick Travis

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SPENCER — After a five-day exhaustive search for missing 66-year-old Richard “Rick” Travis, local emergency personnel along with area, regional search teams discontinued search efforts on Saturday.

Rowan County Emergency Services Director Chris Soliz said as of Saturday evening they formally transferred the case to the Spencer Police Department.

Travis, who suffers dementia, went out for a run Feb. 11 sometime around 2:30 p.m. and hasn’t been seen since except for images captured on neighbors’ surveillance videos the day he went missing.

Soliz said more than 200 people from 40-plus agencies have participated in the search efforts. Volunteers searched the woods, ponds, buildings, door-to-door, the air by helicopters and drones, water and ground using K-9s and sonar, all of which did not result in the desired outcome.

Travis was reported missing via a 911 call made on Monday. Travis, who is an avid runner, is described as skinny, 6 feet tall, and weighs 157 pounds. He has gray hair and typically wears glasses. He was wearing black pants and white knee-high socks.

Searchers checked Travis’ normal running route with no results and on Saturday expanded their search to Long Ferry Road, Interstate 85 and the Yadkin River.

Soliz is hopeful, saying he has no indication to believe Travis is deceased.

He said all they can do is act on clues they’ve discovered.

Lt. Col. Richard Tedesco with the Civil Air Patrol said they had a number of members from as far as Fayetteville who joined the search efforts on Wednesday and had continued through Saturday helping with the land searches.

He said they pair novices with those who are more experienced in searching. The state issued a message for volunteers to assist in the search.

“We strive to give back to the community both with search and rescue and disaster response,” Tedesco said.

He said they have volunteers as young as 12 years old. Tedesco said they hope to provide closure for the family through a positive outcome.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the Spencer Police via 704-633-3574.

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