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Trevor McDonald: Police suspend search for prospector missing near Meekatharra

Elise Van Aken & Ben DownieGeraldton Guardian
Crews search for Trevor McDonald.
Camera IconCrews search for Trevor McDonald. Credit: WA Police

UPDATE 11.09AM August 13

After almost a week of searching remote terrain for missing prospector Trevor McDonald near Meekatharra with no sign of the 83-year-old, the operation to find him has been called off.

WA Police announced just after 11am on Friday that a decision had been made to suspend the search pending further information being received.

A police spokesperson said police wanted to thank all the volunteers who assisted with the search efforts over several days over challenging terrain.

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‘Frustrating’ search goes on

The “frustrating” search for missing prospector Trevor McDonald near Meekatharra continues to baffle emergency services scouring remote bushland to find him almost a week since he vanished.

Trevor McDonald has been identified as the prospector missing from Meekatharra.
Camera IconTrevor McDonald has been identified as the prospector missing from Meekatharra. Credit: Supplied

Crews are recovering old ground in case they missed anything and a review is being done to ensure all avenues have been fully explored before any decision is made to call off the search.

Hopes are fading for Mr McDonald, 83, who failed to meet his wife at their camp site about 5km south of the Bluebird Mine on Saturday after the pair went prospecting in different directions.

The search will continue over an area expanded by 4.5km to Great Northern Highway on foot, with all-terrain vehicles and drones deployed and about 40 police and SES volunteers going over areas they have already scoured.

Mid West-Gascoyne District Inspector Dave Hooper said it was frustrating for the crews because a missing person would normally have been located within a few days within a small search area.

“It’s very frustrating for us,” he said. “Some areas are very open and others are more bushy or with high grass.

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“He was wearing a type of clothing that would blend in so if he’s lying somewhere not moving he may be covered.”

Insp Hooper said members of the public who may have seen someone who resembled Mr McDonald, who has a distinct white beard only on his neck, to contact Crime Stoppers in case he had been picked up on Great Northern Highway.

“Although this is unlikely and we have no information to point to this being the case, we have to keep an open mind,” he said.

Police search for the missing prospector.
Camera IconPolice search for the missing prospector. Credit: Ben Downie/7NEWS

An independent review of the search was being undertaken to determine if any avenues of inquiry remained unexplored before deciding to call it off in the event Mr McDonald was unable to be located. Members of Mr McDonald’s immediate and extended family, including his wife, were gathered at the scene.

His cousin Ray Darling told 7NEWS it was harder to stay hopeful the longer he was missing.

“It’s very hard for myself, even though I’m starting to realise as the days go on, you start thinking the worst,” he said.

“Naturally the whole family has taken everything very hard.

It’s very hard for myself, even though I’m starting to realise as the days go on, you start thinking the worst.

- Ray Darling

“He’s very quiet, slow moving, a typical farmer, but a brilliant fella.”

Mr Darling said he was grateful for the police and volunteers, many of whom had travelled from across the State to search for his cousin.

“Really it’s unbelievable, you don’t realise how the people are and how helpful people can be,” he said.

“People have travelled from all over the State just to come and search and help as much as possible.”

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