The Chevrolet Suburban used by a man who went missing in late September has been found by a hiker about 4 to 5 miles from St. Maries on an old logging road in the Flat Creek area in Benewah County.

Robert D. Nichols has been missing since Sept. 25 and was reported missing Sept. 29 after he failed to show up at a job site.

The 1999 white Chevrolet Suburban was parked along the old logging road about 500-600 yards due east of State Highway 3, Benewah County Sheriff Dave Resser said.

The Suburban was parked less than a mile up the old logging road. The keys were on the dashboard, the window was down, Nichols’ cellphone was in the vehicle and on airplane mode, and several GPS devices and surveying equipment were still in the vehicle, Resser said. A surveying vest worn by Nichols was still in the vehicle.

“There is no indication of foul play,” Resser said. “We’ll take it one step at a time.”

The resident who called authorities about the vehicle Friday had seen it at the same location at the end of September, but did not think it was unusual because it was hunting season. The resident had not returned to the area until Friday, and called the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office, he said.

The spot is near a residential area and Nichols had done survey work there in the past. It is also a popular spot to hunt and area hunters said they did not see any signs of Nichols, Resser said.

Sheriff’s deputies and St. Joe Valley Search and Rescue looked for Nichols for four hours Friday and for nine hours Saturday, he said.

“We covered a fairly big-sized area quite thoroughly,” Resser said of the search efforts so far.

Authorities will continue searching for him and investigating the case, Resser said. The area has about 3 to 6 inches of snow on the ground and so far searchers have not employed a cadaver dog in the search. Resser planned to contact Kootenai County for additional help with the search.

Sheriff’s investigators are talking to Nichols’ parents, and the owner of the surveying business that employed him was in Benewah County on Monday to inventory the Suburban to see if anything was missing, Resser said. Resser estimated there was more than $80,000 in equipment in the vehicle.

“We’ll just progress from there, continuing the search,” he said.

Nichols is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds, and has brown hair and blue eyes.

Resser asks that anyone with information about the missing man contact Benewah County Sheriff’s Detective Mike Richardson at (208) 245-2555.

Lewiston police issued two news releases this fall in the hopes of finding someone who knew what happened to Nichols. The LPD investigation confirmed Nichols left the Seaport building and south parking lot of the Red Lion Hotel in Lewiston at 8:24 a.m. Sept. 25. Statements obtained by investigators indicated he was headed to his residence in St. Maries.

LPD believes Nichols used a company gas card at 11:04 a.m. Sept. 25 at the Liberty Mart at 226 W. 22nd St. N in Lewiston. Lewiston police asked that anyone with information about the case or the whereabouts of Nichols contact Detective Brian Erickson or Lt. Rick Fuentes at (208) 746-0171 or by email at berickson@cityoflewiston.org.

Wells may be contacted at mwells@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2275.

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