The mobile command center, which the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deploys to incidents in the field, was the focus of the search for Dave Bradish last week.
Photo by JP Crumrine

A recent arrival in Idyllwild, David Elliot Bradish, 80, left his new residence on North Circle in Idyllwild in the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 26 to walk his dog Ginger.

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department press release, Bradish suffers from stage two Alzheimer’s.

News sped quickly throughout the town, with residents alerted by a helicopter with searchlights plying the night skies on Monday in and around Idyllwild’s downtown corridor and the county park.

The Sheriff’s Department alerted Mountain Community Patrol to round up volunteers early Tuesday morning to help search for Bradish.

As previously reported, the manhunt for Bradish involved professional responders from many jurisdictions and was one of the largest search missions mounted by authorities.

For the civilians tapped to help in the search, the experience was profound. “I felt desperation for this poor man,” said MCP member Bob Edwards, “so upset for someone, a new arrival, to have this happen to him. We searched for hours on Tuesday, and there was not a person we encountered who was not aware of Mr. Bradish being missing. In fact, many people we talked to had already begun searching on their own.”

Jon Engel of MCP got the call from the Sheriff’s Department to round up as many of his patrol as he could. “Everyone I reached came out. There were eight or nine of us. Some I woke up with my call. We had two teams and were given grids to knock on doors and survey the area. There was not a single person we talked to that did not know about his being missing. Many had already gone door to door on their own. I stopped pedestrians in town and vehicles asking if they had heard about this missing man and his dog. ‘Oh yes, we know,’ was what I heard from everyone.”

Engel explained he rounded up radios (handi-talkies) to give to a church group that was going to search on Sunday in the area leading up to Humber Park. “It was heartening to see people still searching.” Engel said the level of people volunteering on their own to search was striking.

Annamarie Padula was part of a team searching for about four hours from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. “We were given a grid. One of the people I spoke to, Coleen Mettler, said her son Ben had seen a man walking a dog in front of Bubba’s Bookstore near Fern Valley Corners late on Monday around 10.”

In a telephone interview, Ben Mettler recalled what he had seen. “I was walking my dog around 10 across the street from Bubba’s Bookstore. I saw a man walking a dog near Bubba’s. The man kept calling his dog Ginger and trying to keep his dog from coming to see my dog.” Mettler said he had not read or seen a description of Bradish but remembered the man he saw was wearing dark clothes. And he was certain he had heard the man call his dog Ginger.

RCSD Sgt. Kenneth Reichle noted the department had followed up this lead but found no workable leads from these reports. Said Reichle, “We received two reports of this sighting, another male walking his dog [from] two patrons at Café Aroma. Video surveillance was obtained from Café Aroma which covers both sides of the street and we did not see Mr. Brandish [sic] in the video. The area was searched by search crews on Tuesday and again this weekend by volunteers.”

Rush Strong, also on MCP, recalled, “We were canvassing close to where he lived, knocking on doors. Everyone we talked to was extremely cooperative. Some had already been searching on Monday night in efforts organized by community members. We were also stopping FedEx trucks and SoCal Propane trucks and asking them if they had seen anyone matching Bradish’s description. They were very cooperative. But what impressed me most was how informed the community already was about the search and how many were out on their own searching.”

Marilyn Kemple had also started searching before being called up by the Sheriff’s Department, walking her dog down by the creek area where she lives. “That was a good place to be checking; things have happened there in the past,” she recalled. “With MCP, our grid was from Upper Pine Cove to River Road, Oakwood and Alderwood. We knocked on doors and went into yards. Everywhere we went, people were aware. I stopped a runner at 7:30 in the county park and he knew of Bradish’s being lost.” She said the news of Bradish’s disappearance had travelled like wildfire throughout the community.

Idyllwild is known for its residents’ commitment to pulling together when there is difficulty. It also is known for its spirit of volunteerism. Both were at work in community members coming together to try to find Bradish and his Cocker spaniel-mix, Ginger.

There are many rumors, but what is known as of this writing is that there are no leads that have proven productive and that Bradish is still missing. Authorities in Riverside County have contacted authorities in Huntington Beach where Bradish previously lived, but those inquiries have led nowhere.

There are many prayers now being offered by this community, hope against hope, that Bradish will be found. His story and his plight have touched a deeply emotional nerve in this community in which many residents are older.