For the last week, a small, dedicated group of Gladwyne residents have gotten up with the sun to search for one of their own on the icy waters of the Schuylkill.
They pile, four or five of them, into a small fishing boat as morning rush-hour traffic lines up on nearby River Road, a residential street that’s often co-opted by commuters looking to bypass the expressway. For a few hours before work, they look for signs of Geoff Partridge, 36, whose vehicle was found partially submerged in the river near Flat Rock Park on Dec. 5.
During their trips, they have run into other friends and neighbors with the same goal walking along the shore, down nearby train tracks, and through the woods. So far, they’ve found no sign of Partridge, whose sudden disappearance has deeply troubled his friends and family in the tiny Main Line town.
But, as Jim Doran said recently, they won’t stop until they know, for sure, what happened.
On Monday, they’ll dock the boat – owned by Bob Foulk, a neighbor who lives on the river – and attend an evening vigil for Partridge in the park. It’s an attempt by his loved ones to spread awareness about their search for him.
“We do it to help the family. We just had to do something,” said Doran, a longtime neighbor of Partridge’s mother, Holly Morrison. “It’s been a vigil, really, the whole time, in its own way.”
Doran and his colleagues have traced a path initially cut by investigators in Lower Merion Township, who received an assist from the Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue Squad in the early days after Partridge’s disappearance. Cadaver dogs were brought in to search the banks as the boat crews trawled the river and drones were deployed above, taking over a terabyte of photos, according to Morrison.
Detective Sgt. Michael Vice, the investigator leading the case for Lower Merion police, said there were no updates to report Friday as he and his colleagues continue to review information they’ve gathered. He stressed that the search for Partridge is an active investigation.
“We certainly have concern that something happened in the river, because the car was in there,” Vice said. “But we can’t rule out anything at this point. And until we have some resolution, we’ll keep investigating.”
Partridge’s wife, Jill Turanski, said he left their home in Villanova to run errands on the afternoon of the day he went missing He kissed her goodbye, and said he was heading to a vape shop in Bridgeport.
Hours later, she texted him to check in. When he didn’t answer, she called him several times with no success. During one of those attempts, she said, two police officers knocked on her door.
“This situation is the worst thing I can possibly imagine, but the amount of love and support going into this is unreal,” Turanski, 36, said in an interview this week. “It’s what’s keeping me going.”
A passerby had called Lower Merion police to report a silver Jeep Grand Cherokee partially submerged in the Schuylkill near River Road, its front half dipped into the water. The driver’s side door was open, and inside sat Partridge’s keys and cell phone.
Vice said there was no indication that Partridge swerved or skidded off the road, signs that he might have lost control of the vehicle.
And Turanski said she has no idea why her husband was in Gladwyne, where he grew up and where his mother, the head of the local civic association, still lives.
She said he suffers from bipolar depression and Lyme disease, the latter of which often leaves him weak and exhausted. But she said the last few months of their 15-year relationship have been bright, with Partridge feeling more energetic and social.
“Of course I’ve thought about what has happened, but I’ve thought about a million scenarios, and there’s not enough evidence to rule anything out or to say ‘This is what definitely happened,' " Turanski said.
“I can’t stop moving forward and trying to find out,” she added. “And I’m not going to make a decision until we know. I have no option but to keep continuing.”