WASHINGTON, MO. - The search for a missing rural Washington, MO. man has created considerable attention from where he was last seen on Dec. 27, 2022, cruising on a chunk of ice in the Missouri River near Washington. Aaron Duenke, 34, is the person reported missing and last seen in the river.

Aaron DuenkeA group of volunteers has searched up and down both sides of the river eastward toward Howell Island, Chesterfield, Mo., Pelican Island, and at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

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Officials say that Duenke was scheduled to meet family members close to Hinckley Bend at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2022.

A helicopter has been used in Duenke’s search and the Boles Fire Protection District, Wright City Fire Department, and Monarch Fire Protection District utilized elaborate drones with heat technology in the search to no avail.

The helicopter search was from the Missouri River at Highway 47 Bridge to the Highway 364 Bridge, west of Interstate 70.

A Facebook page has been created for the missing man and is called the “Aaron Duenke Search Efforts.”

The family made this statement on the Search Efforts Facebook page: “We know you all want updates and we wish we had them to give you. Thanks to everyone who sent the news from Ste. Genevieve. We are aware and following.

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A map of the search for missing Aaron Duenke.

“What we would love is a thread of good Aaron pictures and stories. If you knew Aaron and have pictures or brief stories that make you smile when you think of him, please share those in the comments here. His family would love to see Aaron through your eyes. By sharing, we can keep his spirit alive."

These were some comments about Aaron on the search Facebook page:

Tara Trotter said: “It's like seeing a native American for the first time as a European who just arrived. Just conquering their environment and living their best life in it. If you know someone or even read of someone and they change you in some way - that's a mark on the world.”

Katie Raymon had these comments about Aaron: “I met him on the river around 3-4 a.m. and I think I woke him up on his board! He paddled with me to Coopers Landing and we talked about everything from breakfast burritos to life goals. I remember seeing a massive rock on his board and when I asked what it was he said something like he just liked it so he picked it up.

“He seemed to have a very different view of the river than I did at that moment and helped me see the beauty in the race. I was so thankful to run into him and have someone to talk to as the sun came up. Even in that short time, he made me feel like we would be friends for years!”

Rikki Hoorman made these statements about the Washington, Mo., missing person: “Aaron brought such a positive outlook with him everywhere he went and always made sure the people around him were taken care of. I was going through some tough times last spring and he randomly would reach out just to tell me to stay positive and it would all work out. I know his family is missing him. I hope in true Aaron fashion he's out there surviving and ends up coming back with one hell of a story to tell us all about the adventure he just went on.”

Angela O’Hanlon said: “We met Aaron for the first time on the maiden voyage of the Eliza (in the Fall of 2020). What a fun night on the river. He was a hoot in front!”

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