Search continues for man seen floating on ice on the Missouri River

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 8:48 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Two days of searching for 34-year-old Aaron Duenke have been unsuccessful. He was last seen around 2 p.m. Tuesday, floating past the Washington riverfront, on a large piece of ice.

Danna Harmon saw him and recorded video of Duenke standing on the ice, holding a paddle.

“We were all just stunned, gobsmacked really. Couldn’t figure out why this person was on the ice,” she said.

The Washington Police Department was notified of a person on an ice flow and responded to the riverfront. But Lt. Steve Sitze said Duenke waved them off and said he was fine and had done this before.

Duenke is described as an adventurous person and experienced at paddling down the Missouri River.

“Yeah, apparently he did this last year but didn’t go as far. I didn’t even know he was doing it this time,” said brother, Curtis Duenke.

The adventure on the ice flow was supposed to end in Labadie, according to a relative, but family members lost contact with Duenke.

Volunteers have been searching the banks of the river on foot. And paddle guides from Big Muddy Adventures have canoed 20 miles of the river, from Washington to the Weldon Spring Conservation Area boat launch.

“In the paddling community there are a bunch of experienced people who are really determined to find him,” said Curtis Duenke.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has assisted in the search, using a helicopter to fly over the river.

Danna Harmon is still coming to grips with the startling sight she saw of a man floating on ice down the river. And that the man went missing sometime later.

“It was heartbreaking to feel like maybe we were the last people to see him,” she said.

A Facebook page has been created to track information about the search for Duenke.

More volunteers are requested to help search the banks of the river on foot. The Duenke family is also asking for volunteers who can use drones to aid in the search.