Police find clothing believed to be Zane Stevens’ as family calls on public for help

Natasha ClarkBroome Advertiser

Police have announced they are de-escalating the search for missing person Zane Stevens who was last seen 30km North of Broome a week ago, as his family calls on the public for answers.

The twenty-one year old Pilbara man’s car was found bogged in heavy marshland at Coconut Wells on Friday April 26.

He had travelled to the popular tourism destination with another man, who is yet to be identified to the public.

After attempting to free their car, police believe the two men took off on foot.

The pair found a nearby house, where they were both given water; after this, they continued walking and, at some point in the evening, separated.

Superintendent Steve Thompson told media, “When walking away [from the house] they’ve separated, the other male has come across another vehicle, who’s picked him up, they’ve conducted a search, and he’s come back to Broome.”

Mr Thompson said police had uncovered both tracks believed to be Mr Stevens and an item of his clothing.

“We employed our specialist trackers from Perth, where despite the difficult terrain in the large search area found foot marks, which are consistent with someone moving around the area that we think was Zane trying to recover the vehicle,” he said.

“All I can say at this stage is that we have recovered a piece of clothing that we believe belongs to Zane,” he said.

The extensive week-long search included the deployment of resources from Perth, such as helicopters and additional State Emergency Service workers.

Now Mr Stevens’ family is urging the public to please provide information on their beloved family member, and father to two-year-old daughter Zara Stevens.

Mr Stevens’ Aunt Tania Stevens said she doesn’t know how her nephew ended up in Coconut Wells, as he was initially travelling to a funeral in Carnarvon.

“I don’t know why he was visiting Coconut Wells, all I know if that he was supposed to attend a funeral in Carnarvon, but then he got sidetracked from the other gentlemen that was with him,” she said.

Ms Stevens said her nephew has impressive bush skills, which has led her to question the state of mind he was in when he bogged his car.

“I know that if he’s in the right state of mind, he wouldn’t have actually went in there and got his car bogged,” she said.

“It’s played on our mind, wondering what kind of state of mind he was in.”

Mr Stevens disappearance has devastated his Pilbara family.

“We are not coping well at all,” Tania said.

“Because all we want is him home and safe, its been too long that he’s been gone.. I’m sure somebody in the community may have seen him and given him a lift so please come forward and let us know where he is,” she said.

Superintendent Steve Thompson is still hopeful Mr Stevens will be located, but said concerns for his welfare grow as time goes on.

“We have deescalated the search at this stage, but continuing to do search efforts, but the longer the period [he isn’t found] obviously the more concerns we have.

Anyone who sees Mr Stevens is urged to contact police immediately on 131 444.


Police end search for missing man Zane Stevens a week after he disappeared north of Broome

ABC Kimberley
By Mya KordicEsse DevesRosanne Maloney

WA police say they are suspending the land search for a man who went missing in the Kimberley a week ago. 

Zane Stevens, 21, was travelling with another man when their Toyota LandCruiser became bogged near Coconut Wells, north of Broome, on April 26.

He was reported missing the next day, with an extensive land, sea and air search being undertaken over the past week.

Dozens of West Australian police and State Emergency Service personnel have spent the past seven days scouring dense bush and marshland.

Police say they have recovered an item of clothing they believe belonged to Mr Stevens.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority aircraft also spent hours surveying the site on Wednesday morning using special technology to track movements, before flying back to Perth.

On Friday, relatives of Mr Stevens pleaded for help from the public to find him, as police wind down search efforts.

As Saturday marks a week since he was reported missing, police said family had been notified of the suspended land search, pending further information.

Family pleads for clarity

With Mr Stevens not being found, his concerned aunt Tania Stevens has pleaded for anyone with information to come forward.

"It's been too long — all we want is someone to come forward, let us know where he is and that he's safe," she said.

"I'm sure there's somebody's out there who knows where Zane is — please come forward and let us know so we can have closure."

Ms Stevens said she did not know why Mr Stevens, who is from the Pilbara town of Wickham, was in the Kimberley.

"He got sidetracked by the other gentleman and forgot he was supposed to go to Carnarvon [for a funeral]," she said.

Ms Stevens said she believed her nephew would have tried his best to retrieve the vehicle.

"He's always happy and he's willing to help anybody — that's the sort of child he is," she said.

"Even when he goes out bush and there's something that needs to be done, he gets in and he does it."

Ms Stevens thanked everyone involved who had searched for Mr Stevens through the week.

Police call for public's help

WA Police Kimberley Superintendent Steve Thompson said while the search was "de-escalating", an aircraft was deployed today.

"We effectively are working on a day-by-day basis for the search now to decide where we deploy what resources and how long we continue to search," he said.

Superintendent Thompson said Mr Stevens and the other male found a nearby home after leaving the vehicle, where they received water, before walking back along the track and separating.

Investigations are ongoing as to how the men became separated.

"The other male then has subsequently come across another vehicle who's picked him up, they've conducted a search and then they've come back to Broome," Superintendent Thompson said.

Police say beacons were left out in the area, lit and placed with water and a note – which they say Mr Stevens had not interacted with.

Superintendent Thompson said the site's terrain made for a challenging and difficult search.

"It's a very difficult terrain at Coconut Wells. It incorporates thick areas of dense bush, open boggy marshland areas and watercourse areas," he said.

"[Specialist trackers] were able to pick up some indications and foot marks, which are consistent with someone moving around the area that we think is Zane trying to recover the vehicle.

"All I can say at this stage is we have recovered an item of clothing which we believe belongs to Zane."

Superintendent Thompson said it wasn't too late to provide police with further information.

"To anyone who would have been out in Coconut Wells, particularly last weekend, who believe they may have seen Zane or spoken to him or anyone else in that area, please come forward," he said. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact WA Police on 131 444.



Family of missing West Australian Zane Stevens demand answers over 21-year-old's disappearance

ABC Kimberley
By Esse Deves May 30th 2024

Surrounded by her family, Nora Togo's eyes fill with tears as she speaks about her grandson Zane Stevens.

The Pilbara woman last saw Mr Stevens about two months before he was reported missing, north of Broome last month.

"I want my grandchild back," Ms Togo said.

"Very sad. I feel lonely and sad."

Mr Stevens, 21, has not contacted family since his ute became bogged in mud near Coconut Wells, about 20 kilometres north of the tourist town.

The father-of-one was travelling with another man when they became separated, after leaving their vehicle and asking for water from a nearby resident. 

Mr Stevens' relatives have travelled to Broome from across the state to support his partner and two-year-old daughter.

His aunt, Tania Stevens, said his disappearance had taken a toll on the family, as they could not provide the answers Mr Stevens' daughter desperately needs.

"She's a very, very smart little girl. She knows her dad, she loves her dad," she said.

"For a little two-year-old to look for her dad every day … there's not a day goes by that she's not looking for her daddy."

Mr Stevens' relatives believe someone in the community knows what happened to him.

"We need to know the truth about what happened to Zane so we can comfort the grandmother, the father, the missus and the two-year-old," Tania Stevens said.

"When you look at them every day, you see the hurt every day that they go through."

Search called off 'too soon'

The extensive land, air and sea search for Mr Stevens was suspended one week after he was reported missing.

Dozens of police and state emergency service volunteers scoured bush and marshland, tracking footprints for any sign of the 21-year-old.

An item of clothing, believed to belong to Mr Stevens, was recovered.

His grandmother, Naomi Bobby, said she believed the search for her grandson was called off too early.

"We came on the first week of his missing time … we stood back for what was going to come to us," she said.

"We went through a lot of little arguments and stress. It's not right."

Ms Bobby said her family had been in touch with Yawuru traditional owners about continuing the search, following respectful cultural protocols.

"We need [a lot of support] from Broome — Broome town itself and from other surrounding language groups to find our grandson," she said.

Community coming together

In a bid to raise further awareness, Mr Stevens' family is organising a march in Broome to call for more information.

They hope it will also shine light on other missing Indigenous people in the region.

"When you look at it, a lot of our Indigenous people go missing and the families don't get closure," Ms Stevens said.

"We need to put the pressure on, saying 'we're not going away, we want to know where our Indigenous people are' because they actually belong to a family and family want closure."

Relative Kerry Churnside said the 21-year-old's disappearance had been felt across northern WA.

"It's very hard to sleep not knowing where this boy is," she said.

"There are people sitting out there with answers."

A community meeting will be held in the Pilbara town of Roebourne, where Mr Stevens grew up, this weekend to discuss how to support his immediate family.

In a statement, WA Police said "at this time there is no evidence of criminality".