Daunting questions still linger in Montauk and at home concerning the case of missing person George Richardson. It has been weeks since the Dix Hills man was last seen or heard from, and with each passing day comes even greater shock. Where could he possibly be?
"He's the Director of Development for Huntington Hospital, and was elected with you and the others to the Chamber Board in May," Alyssa Nightingale shared with me late August 28th in a phone call. Life-long Huntington resident Alyssa Nightingale, owner of Nightingale & Nightingale Public Relations was voted Long Islands Best PR firm in 2012 by the Long Island Press. Deeply saddened by what two weeks ago had just hit the airwaves, she and I talked for nearly an hour.
"He's just the nicest man you could ever meet," she said.
I recall how excited Richardson was to be involved with businesses in Huntington. His new position at Huntington Hospital seemed to open many doors, he was especially happy to meet new people, share new ideas and invite everyone to learn about and attend the events at Huntington Hospital. He certainly had plans. He was certainly developing relationships, and was certainly, the nicest man you could ever meet.
"There are a few insurance companies interested in joining the Chamber, and each has said they look to network directly with doctors," I said to the Board at our first meeting this summer. Increasing opportunity for businesses to facilitate business with one another is at the very heart of any Chamber of Commerce; here in Huntington, it's the heart that matters most. My experience this year at the Chamber has proven just that, and being involved has allowed me to see how much our businesses, and those behind them, really do care about one another. Richardson immediately responded to me and volunteered himself,
"I'd love to talk to the insurance companies. I can put them right in touch with our doctors and get them involved," he said.
One of many footpaths near Hartman's Briney Breezes Motel - Montauk, Long Island, N.Y.
It has been 15 days, and still no sign of George Richardson. I can only imagine how incredibly hurt the Richardson family is, and I wonder how much is being done right now to find him. According to East Hampton police, blogs and other media, cops responded to a flood of valuable leads after his picture was circulated throughout the Town of East Hampton. What were these leads exactly? What is a 'valuable' lead?
Folks I spoke to in East Hampton and Montauk, perfect strangers to me, knew nothing of Richardson or his disappearance. I brought along last week's Long Islander newspaper and showed 15 people the article, Richardson's pictures in it. "I can't believe this, I had no idea," was the general response from each person. The only place I saw a missing person sign was inside the office at Hartman's Briney Breezes Motel, where Richardson and his family vacationed last month.
"Grown men just don't vanish without a trace," Robert White told me this week. White is the manager at Hartman's Briney Breezes Motel. "Granted if people want to vanish, they can do it, but no one saw him? No one at all?" Reports read that Richardson frequently went for early morning walks by himself, and was last seen by family at 1:00 AM. "He would go down and run on the beach every morning," White said. Staff is required to be present at the front desk 24-7, but whether or not someone was actually present inside the office between 1 and 2 AM remains unclear. The Hartman family, owners of Hartman's Briney Breezes Motel have advised staff not to comment to any media about Richardson.
View of Atlantic Ocean facing East - Montauk, Long Island, N.Y.
Environmental factors continue to be a challenge. The motel is situated opposite the beach, separated from the shore by Old Montauk Highway and about 100 yards of dense, unruly vegetation. Trails and beach paths connect the shore to the road, one such trail found directly opposite the hotel entrance. As much as authorities report to have searched the heavily overgrown dunes, seeing through the vegetation is difficult and walking through it, dangerous. While it seems unlikely that Richardson was swept off by the sea; high tide rolled into Montauk at 7:51 AM on August 28. Rising tides can be more dangerous than receding tides, as the flood of water continues to lift a person higher up while widening the swim back to shore. Statistics however show that more than half of all drowning victims are found ashore within 1 week of an incident. Suffolk County Police assisted town police with aerial surveillance, while deployed K-9 units returned no clues. Some speculate that Richardson may have gotten into a car somewhere outside the motel, yet no evidence suggests that either.
What we continue to hope and pray for, is that George Richardson is alive, unscathed, and on his way back to Huntington. With that still standing as a plausible reality, one seemingly unexplored possibility is that he chose to vanish, and according to Hamptonites, that idea isn't too far fetched. But how exactly?
East Hampton Airport - Long Island, N.Y.
Three uncontrolled airports operate between Montauk and the Town of Southampton:
3. Westhampton Airport - Francis S. Gabreski Airport
"We keep no register or record of people who board or deplane any aircraft here," a manager at East Hampton Airport told me. The manager, who asked not to be named, explained that while East Hampton Airport now has a control tower (which technically removes East Hampton airport from the list of "uncontrolled" airports) East Hampton continues to operate as it had in the past. "All the pilot has to do is switch off the plane's transmitter before he takes off or lands. Once that's done, there's no digital log of that aircraft here."
The overall activities of the FAA have long since been on the radar of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. Funding and safety amongst other issues have popped up in communities all over the State, thus motivating the senator to push for changes. The east-end airports themselves have created quite a stir with Hamptons locals, as first reported by The Sag Harbor Express last year.
"There is virtually no way of knowing who gets on any aircraft. We don't look at identification, and the FAA has very little involvement with our operations." FAA stands for Federal Aviation Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. "The only way to figure out which aircrafts came in is by looking at fueling records. If any plane, jet or helicopter fuels up here, then a record is kept."
Photos of Dix Hills Resident George Richardson
IF YOU OR ANYBODY YOU KNOW HAS ANY INFORMATION REGARDING THE DISAPPEARANCE OF
GEORGE RICHARDSON CALL POLICE IMMEDIATELY AT (631) 537-7575