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Heartbreak as man ‘vanishes'

Julie Stevenson holds a photo of her husband Paul Stevenson and is comforted by daughter Nikki.
Julie Stevenson holds a photo of her husband Paul Stevenson and is comforted by daughter Nikki. Scottie Simmonds

Toni Somes has written a first-hand account of her family's desperate search to find her brother, who went missing in the Bundaberg region three weeks ago.

ANXIETY is the call to say your brother didn't make it home from a motorbike ride.

Hope is what you hold on to when 48 hours later a police helicopter finds his crashed road bike.

Despair is what engulfs you when hours, days, weeks pass and you still haven't found him.

It is now a hellish 20 days since my brother, Paul Stevenson, disappeared without a trace from a road west of Bundaberg.

He has been officially missing since Sunday, March 11, when he failed to return to home after an early morning motorbike ride.

Two days later the 1978 Honda CB750 he spent a decade restoring was found by a police rescue helicopter down an embankment on the Mt Perry-Gin Gin Rd about 100km inland from Bundaberg.

Witnesses later came forward to say they saw a man matching my brother's description walking east along the bitumen road about 600m from the crash site about 1pm on March 11.

No one has reported seeing him since. He hasn't used his mobile phone or his bank accounts.

He hasn't called family or friends.

He has quite literally disappeared without a trace.

So how does someone just vanish in this age of global positioning systems, mobile phones and Facebook?

And where does a family, desperate to find someone they love, start to look?

When we first learnt Paul was missing, we were galvanised into anxious action.

We chartered a helicopter to join the police search and drove north to be with his distraught wife, Julie, and their children Tom, 16, and Nikki, 19.

After police found his road bike we joined SES teams and with Paul's friends and workmates and spent days crawling down embankments, up ridges and through lantana.

We will always be in debt to those who gave up their time to help us search and who offered a steady hand and a kind word when the terrain blurred through our tears.

Three days later when police wound up the ground search, a group of my brother's most loyal mates stayed on and with footy club members and city friends we kept looking.

Bundaberg police district Inspector Kev Guteridge tells us the investigation is ongoing.

So what do we, as a family, do next?

"You have the hardest job of all," he answered.

Then my mum, Pat Stevenson, emotional, but brave, explains why this search for her oldest son is so important.

"Paul means the world to us. We miss him and we want him home."

She fights back tears before adding: "We will search for him our whole lives, if that is what it takes."

And we will.

Topics:  bundaberg, missing




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