UPDATED: Former state legislator missing and endangered in St. George; public’s help requested

Update Jan. 2, 2017  – Bennion has been found safe.

Read more: Former state legislator missing since New Year’s Eve has been found.

ST. GEORGE — Former state legislator and former Salt Lake County Republican Party Chairman Chad Bennion went for a night run along a trail in St. George Saturday and has not been seen since.

Chad Bennion was last seen Saturday at about 4 p.m. in the area of Valley View Drive, St. George, Utah, Jan 1, 2017 | Image courtesy of St. George Police Department, St. George News
Chad Bennion was last seen Saturday at about 4 p.m. in the area of Valley View Drive, St. George, Utah, Jan 1, 2017 | Image courtesy of St. George Police Department, St. George News

See video in the media player top of this report.

The 52-year-old Bennion of Murray went for a run New Year’s Eve while visiting his family and disappeared. He has not been seen since, St. George Police Lt. Joseph Hartman said.

“When we tried to ping his cell phone it hit a tower on North Bluff,” Hartman said. “But they couldn’t pinpoint it any more accurate than that. It could be within 3, 4, 5 or 10 miles, we don’t know.”

Bennion is described as a white male, about 5 feet 9 inches tall. He was last seen at around 4 p.m. Saturday wearing black running pants and a white T-shirt.

Bennion is known to park his car at trailheads when he goes running. His vehicle has not been located. Bennion drives a black Oldsmobile Bravada SUV.

Description 

  • Name:             Chad Edward Bennion
  • Age:                 52 years old
  • Height:            5 feet 9 inches
  • Weight:           170 lbs
  • Complexion:  Fair
  • Build                Average/medium
  • Hair color:     Brown
  • Eye color:       Blue
  • Vehicle:           Black 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada
  • License plate: Utah X413GX
An Oldsmobile Bravada, similar to the vehicle owned by missing person Chad Bennion. Undated. | Public domain picture courtesy of Wikipedia, St. George News
This photo is given for illustration purposes. It shows an Oldsmobile Bravada, similar to the vehicle owned by missing person Chad Bennion. Bennion went missing in St. George Dec. 31, 2016. Undated. | Public domain picture courtesy of Wikipedia, St. George News

Anyone who happens to see his vehicle or has any information on the location of Bennion is asked to call St. George Police via the St. George Communications Center dispatch at 435-627-4300 or call 911 with reference incident 16P032570.

Bennion has recently been attending law school in Los Angeles, Washington County commissioner-elect Dean Cox said in an interview.

“He is going to school at the Western State College of Law,” Cox said. “He’s just a super-nice kid. I can’t say nothing but good things about him.”

Update at 8:20 p.m.: search continues by air

“There’s nothing to indicate anything suspicious about the circumstances,” St George Police Capt. Mike Giles said. “Whether he ran into an issue on a trail, hurt himself, got stuck somewhere, we just don’t know.”

“Our goal currently is to find the vehicle and determine what kind of search we need to conduct after that,” Giles said.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office took to the air in search of Bennion’s black SUV until nightfall. Though several black vehicles were spotted, none was confirmed to be Bennion’s, according to a Facebook post by Cox.

A helicopter from Zion Helicopters flies in search of Chad Bennion, who went missing New Year's Eve, Washington County, Utah, Jan. 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Carl Downing, St. George News
A helicopter from Zion Helicopters flies in search of Chad Bennion, who went missing New Year’s Eve, Washington County, Utah, Jan. 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Carl Downing, St. George News

Meanwhile, another close friend and associate of Bennion, Carl Downing, took to the air courtesy of Zion Helicopters in order to search several possible areas near Hurricane.

“We searched from five helicopters over to Gold’s Wash around all the Gem trails and up on top to Gooseberry Mesa checked that area and came back around over, all the way across I-15 over a lot of BLM land, and the edge of Snow Canyon,” Downing said.

However, their search turned up no leads.

“The lighting was great,” Downing said. “If there was a vehicle out there, I’m confident we would have found it.”

St. George News reporter Joseph Witham contributed to this report.

Ed. note: Updated at 5 p.m. with new details on Bennion’s description. Updated at 8:20 p.m. with video report, police interviews and information about air search.

Email: rwayman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

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14 Comments

  • Chris January 1, 2017 at 11:22 am

    “a super-nice kid”? 52 years old?

    • comments January 1, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      yea something very wrong about this info. I think u guys flopped on reporting this one.

      • comments January 1, 2017 at 1:57 pm

        or maybe it is that odd…

  • ffwife January 1, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Guess he doesn’t have an iPhone with “find my phone”installed. It will give you an exact location. I have lost mine and it told me exactly where it was within a few feet. Hope they find him, yes this does seem odd.

  • mmsandie January 1, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Who goes out New Years eve walking on a trail in the dark…then I read of he was head of republican committee. That explained it… Hope they find him, maybe he was meeting someone

    • .... January 1, 2017 at 11:03 pm

      Well when you have an accident and your hurt and can’t get any help. maybe people can just make stupid jokes about you to

    • comments January 2, 2017 at 11:07 am

      Yep, it is very very weird.

  • Rex January 1, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    I hope they find him.

  • .... January 1, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Hopefully he’s Allright and they locate him soon

  • Bowlinggreen123 January 2, 2017 at 12:12 am

    Hopefully just in Vegas for a little r&r.

  • laytonian January 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Well, well, well.

    Chad has been located. Search has been called off. He was “staying with a friend”.

    I TOLD Y’ALL SO!

  • Chris January 2, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    “I can’t say nothing but good things about him.” Nice double negative there, Dean. Also, Western State College of Law is a lower tier law school with very low admission standards that is essentially a diploma mill for students who can’t get into respectable law schools.

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