When my 27-year-old stepson went missing in the desert after his car broke down on Aug. 6, our hearts sank with the news. Law enforcement began their search on the night of the 7th and did not find him. Our friends at Randall-Reilly, publishers of Overdrive magazine, quickly sprang into action, spreading the news through their blogs and social connections. Truckers everywhere, asked the question: Had anyone seen Bryan or his dog?
I posted a release on Patch.com and emailed it to friends, and family. I shared it using LinkedIn Updates, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter and a PR distribution service. Through Twitter others reached out to us, including @missingincalif who lives near the Mojave Desert. Her husband was on the team that searched for Bryan that first night. She saw our story and offered help. Ideas were shared, along with helpful connections.
My husband left Chicago for Barstow, Calif., to meet with law enforcement and to help find Bryan. Meanwhile relatives phoned hotels and faxed a description. My niece and others helped locate Bryan’s California friends on Facebook in hopes that someone could provide a clue.
My husband asked truckstop managers to post flyers. No one refused. Many truckers offered to help spread the word themselves.
Prayers came our way through every possible medium– from friends, family and complete strangers; from a woman whose daughter had gone missing years before near Ludlow, Calif.
On Friday night, the search resumed in temperatures well over 100 degrees. Hours later, in the last attempt to find him early Saturday morning, the body of Bryan and his beloved dog Ruff were recovered.
Our hearts are broken and lives changed forever with the loss of our kind and loving son. But while we did not get the safe return we all prayed for, there was an ending to Bryan’s story, something many others with missing loved ones do not have. Others must go on living not knowing what happened to their son or daughter, their father or mother, sister or brother. Thousands go missing each year. To those who shared the news about Bryan in every way they knew how, we are so grateful for your efforts, and for your social connections. Without this influence, we truly believe the search may have ended days earlier, before Bryan and Ruff were ever found.
The next time someone dismisses social media as stupid, or inconsequential, tell them this story. Social media is powerful and the connections very real. Websites and social media activities help keep missing person stories alive, long after the police give up. Build your connections and use them wisely. You never know when you may need them for something so important.
One way to help find missing persons is to sign a petition in favor of Kelly’s Law. If passed this law would require law enforcement to enter the information of missing adults into a national database of missing persons within 12 hours.
Thanks for sharing and connecting.