Search for missing Ardoch woman goes national
Authorities continue their search for an 82-year-old Ardoch, N.D., woman who disappeared more than a week ago during a cross-country journey from North Dakota to Washington.
Florence Dumontet left Ardoch early on the morning of Oct. 16 and was believed to have been last seen in Grand Forks filling her pickup with gas at the Simonson's on Gateway Drive near Interstate 29 later that morning.
Until Monday, the search bulletin for Dumontet was only limited to states she was believed to have been planning to travel.
"As of (Monday) morning, this is going out nationwide," said Sgt. Dan Hillebrand of the Grand Forks Sheriff's Department.
The department said Dumontet had been spotted at a gas station in Bismarck on Oct. 16.
Two clerks at the MVP Conoco Service Station by Exit 157 on Interstate 94 saw the missing person flyer posted in that store and recalled a conversation they had with her on Sunday.
"We have a report of a sighting in western Bismarck at a gas station right off the interstate," Hillebrand said. "The two clerks both say it was her. The vehicle matched and they observed a dog in the front seat."
Dumontet was accompanied on her trip by her cream-colored poodle, Peaches. The dog was recently groomed with a haircut, was estimated to weigh between 15 and 20 pounds.
The Grand Forks Sheriff's Department was in contact with a number of Montana law enforcement agencies, as well as in Arizona.
Authorities believe her next logical stop after Bismarck would have been in Montana -- likely in Miles City, Glendive or Billings. Her son believes she was planning to travel as far as Missoula, Mont., where she would stay the night. He checked all the hotels in that city without finding any signs of her.
"We're in the midst of getting federal authorities involved," Hillebrand said. "The FBI has some jurisdictions that local law enforcement doesn't have."
A son searches
Authorities aren't the only ones on the search for Dumontet, who is 5 feet tall and weighs 150 pounds with white hair and blue eyes.
Dumontet was on her annual trip to Washington to visit friends and her son Donald, who lives in Shelton, Wash. From Oct. 20-23, Donald Dumontet made the drive from his home to Dickinson, N.D., retracing the route that his mother took on a yearly basis.
Donald Dumontet, traveling with a female friend, stopped at motels and rest stops, checking for signs of her. They even looked for breaks in guard rails along the Interstate to see if there were any signs of a vehicle leaving the road in the Badlands and at other steep ditches.
Despite having a heart condition she took medication for, she has been described as being energetic and having a good memory.
"She was very sharp. She does it (the trip) every year," Donald Dumontet said. "She comes out to visit friends in Seattle, visit her grandchildren and then comes down to see me. Then she headed out to Arizona. She has a house in Florence, Ariz."
Hard to track
So far, most of the tips that have been relayed to the sheriff's department have come from North Dakota and Montana.
"We've got very few leads from other states. We're trying to prioritize the information and see what points to her and what doesn't," Hillebrand said
One reason that authorities have had trouble tracking her is because she didn't use a credit card. Florence Dumontet carried traveler's checks and cash.
Because Donald Dumontet doesn't have power of attorney, he could not learn from the banks whether she had bought traveler's checks or how many, or if any had been cashed and returned, he said.
Florence Dumontet was traveling in a 2008 black Lincoln Mark LT crew-cab pickup with North Dakota license plate HXY089.
Her pickup is quite recognizable and unusual, and was only made for a few years. She has the last model, a 2008.
The vehicle retails at nearly $30,000 according to Kelley Blue Book website.
"We're trying to take everything into account, but the vehicle she is driving is very expensive," Hillebrand said.
Dumontet's maiden name was Gerszewski and she had numerous relatives in Walsh County.
"She has lots of relatives back there," said her son, who was born in Grand Forks. "I've been getting millions of calls from everybody."
With the case now more than a week old, authorities believe they will need a break soon to make any significant progress.
"As it goes on, you get more concerned," Hillebrand said. "I like to think positively that everything is still well with her."
The sheriff's department asks anyone with information to call (701) 780-8280.