The search for 57-year-old Gurnee resident Andy Adler intensified Sunday, but ended in the late afternoon with little success.
About 100 friends, family members and neighbors gathered at Joy Lutheran Church in Gurnee early Sunday, then began combing the vast Lake County forest preserves in search of Adler, who has been missing for more than a week.
Contact information ( * required )
The search was scheduled to end around 5 p.m., and at that point about half of the 23 groups that had been formed to conduct the search had returned without finding success.
Adler's wife Kay said she will talk to police to determine further steps. She added it is important that if anyone finds her husband's bicycle or helmet, they report the location, so police can investigate.
"I was we just hoping that with all of those people that are going out, plus what we have already done, that something would show up, that somebody would call in and say something," she said.
On Sunday morning, armed with bug spray and fortified with nutrition bars and bottled water, the volunteers fanned out in groups according to a series of quadrants mapped out by organizers.
Gurnee police said Adler's family last saw him at about 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 8, at his home on the South Side of the village.
Kay, who stayed behind at the church waiting for word from the field, said, "He said was going to go for a bike ride and his plan was to come back in a couple of hours."
She said her husband rides his bike a lot and is familiar with the trails in the area.
"He would go 40, 50 miles whenever he went out," she said. "He was also a very active swimmer. He could swim a couple miles without any problem."
She expressed gratitude for the efforts of those taking part in the search and acknowledged friends and neighbors who have been out on the trails passing out fliers.
"The generosity and the kindness and the support is just truly amazing," she said.
The Adlers have lived in the area 22 years, she said.
Their next-door neighbor, Dan Accettura, said the turnout Sunday proves that Adler was a special person.
"I would say that in our community, he was kind of the glue that held us all together," Accettura said, adding that Adler was always willing to lend a hand.
Accettura said a couple of volunteer groups with bloodhounds have also been conducting searches.
Before the groups began searching Sunday, another Adler friend and search organizer Dan Deuel advised the searchers to stay close to the trails, unless they saw evidence that someone has walked off the trail.
He warned that the Des Plaines River is above its banks and that part of the Des Plaines River Trail is under water.
John Holm, a staff member at Joy Lutheran, led the group in a short prayer as the search began. He said Adler, who was a secular Jew, was active in the church with his wife.
"We knew him and we loved him, and he was one of us," Holm said.
Gurnee police Chief Kevin Woodside also spoke to the crowd, emphasizing the challenges posed by the great distances that can be covered on a bike and by the delay between the time Adler departed and the time that it was determined he had disappeared.
"We're optimistic that today's volunteer search will turn up something and give us the ability to focus a more intensive search," Woodside said. "It's inspiring that his friends and family have rallied around him like this."
He said much of the department's efforts have been focused on the forest preserve, because of Adler's activity as a bike rider.
One of the searchers, Mitch Goldman of Grayslake, said he cultivated a friendship with Adler at work, where they cultivated a friendship built around such activities as riding bikes and motorbikes together.
He acknowledged that the situation "gets more dire every day" but said he still holds out hope Adler will be found safe.