Canine Units Search for Missing Man

Through the brush and along the beach, looking for hospital executive
At Hartman’s Briney Breezes Motel in Montauk, where George Richardson was staying before he disappeared on Aug. 28. Suffolk police dogs and their handlers searched a wooded area near the motel yesterday. T.E. McMorrow

    Shortly after noon yesterday, Montauk was buzzing with the news that four Suffolk County Police Department K-9 units, accompanied by East Hampton Town police officers, were searching through the thick brush on Old Montauk Highway for George Richardson, 51, of Dix Hills, who has been missing since the morning of Aug. 28.
    Three hours later, however, when nothing had turned up, Det. Sgt. Robert Gurney of the town police called the action “routine,” explaining that the repeated search of the nearly impassible brush was part of a wider investigation. He said the dogs were there to search the roadside and oceanside edges of the brush. The dogs, which were used as a team, were given breaks on the hot, humid day in air-conditioned cars.
    The county sheriff’s department deployed its own dogs the day after Mr. Richardson disappeared, and search dogs are expected to return as leaves start falling, if Mr. Richardson is not found by then. Police are also continuing to canvass Montauk for possible witnesses.
    The last time Mary Richardson saw her husband was at about 1 a.m. on Aug. 28, in room 25 of Hartman’s Briney Breezes motel. They had been in Montauk for three days and were due to check out that morning.
    He was not in the room at 6 a.m., but his wife told town police he was given to taking walks along the beach, so his family waited for him to return. At about 10:45 a.m., Ms. Richardson called the police.
    There has been no sign of him.
    Mr. Richardson, 51, is a vice president of Huntington Hospital, in charge of its fund-raising operations. The Richardsons live in a hilly, cloistered section of Dix Hills, an easy five-minute walk to their three children’s schools and a 15-minute drive to the hospital.
    “We are following every possible lead,” Detective Gurney said yesterday. Handbills have been handed out with Mr. Richardson’s picture. He is white, about 5 foot 6 inches, about 150 pounds, with short gray hair and a small scar on his chin. The photo shows him wearing the orange cap in which he was last seen.
    The family has circulated missing-person posters as well, hanging them on various public bulletin boards. According to the missing man’s father, also named George Richardson, there has been no response.
    Police said they have contacted the managers and owners of Montauk taxi companies. Before Labor Day there were an unknown number of UpIsland independent cab companies here as well, many of them one-man operations.
    A Long Island Rail Road train left Montauk at 5:39 a.m. on the day Mr. Richardson vanished. The conductor, who was too busy getting the train out of the station on Sept. 4 to give his name, said that police hadn’t spoken to him, but he did see them conducting interviews with passengers. He himself hadn’t seen Mr. Richardson, he said.
    Room 25 is a corner room allowing for easy access to the beach, which is across Old Montauk Highway, down a six-foot-wide stepped cut through thick brush.       Low tide that morning was at about 1 a.m., when Mr. Richardson was last seen. High tide was at about 6:40 a.m.
    “The surf was up there” that morning, said Sergeant Gurney. “It was a heavy surf, the sweep was west to east, the wind was out of the north.”
    Under such conditions, a drowning victim would be washed out toward Montauk Point, and might come to rest at Ditch Plain, which was known as Dead Man’s Cove more than a century ago, because it was where lost fishermen and shipwreck victims tended to wash up.
    The family and police continue to believe that Mr. Richardson is alive, and the search continues.
    According to Jennie White, who has been managing the motel complex with her husband, Robert, for many years, it was the first time the Richardsons had stayed at Briney Breezes.