Search continues for missing Camden County man

Donald Lee Erwin, 59, has been missing since Dec. 29.

Relatives continued to search Saturday for a man who went missing shortly before the new year.

Donald Lee Erwin's sister, uncle, cousins and other relatives fanned out across the Lake Ozark area Saturday afternoon in an effort to locate Erwin, who disappeared on Dec. 29. Police and Erwin's family say a neighbor saw him leave his house around 6 a.m. that day, saying he was going to buy some cigarettes.

Terry Bowen, who is engaged to Erwin's sister, told reporters the family organized a search party a week ago but had to cut the search short due to that weekend's severe winter weather. He said this weekend's milder weather and melting snow meant searchers could check places they hadn't been able to get to. Of particular interest to the searchers Saturday was the area around Tunnel Dam and Ha Ha Tonka State park, both of which family said were among Erwin's favorite spots. Bowen said there are several spots in that area where a vehicle could easily reach the water.

Erwin's family said they have enlisted the help of just about every law enforcement agency in the area and the Civil Air Patrol, which they said sent a surveillance plane aloft Saturday to help with the search efforts. Jamee Rugen, a deputy with the Camden County Sheriff's Office, said her department had contacted every law enforcement agency within a 45-mile radius, the estimated range of Erwin's car, which had a quarter tank of gas that day. She said the Highway Patrol had also helped with aerial search.

Donald Erwin's wife, Karen, said Donald needed several medications including blood thinners and antidepressants. She said doctors had to amputate his left leg above the knee due to a bone disease he had had since childhood. Karen added Donald did not use a prosthetic leg because he could not put any weight on that side of his hip.

Erwin's family said they would keep looking until he is found. Bowen told KRCG 13 Saturday night that the day's search was unsuccessful and the family would continue asking around on Sunday.

"We're never gonna stop," Bowen said. "There probably will come a point where we'll have to slow down a little bit, but the effort will never stop."

Erwin is a white man standing 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds. He has long brown hair in a ponytail, brown eyes and a full, graying beard. He was last seen wearing a blue coat, blue jeans and gray loafers and driving a silver 2002 Hyundai Elantra hatchback. Erwin's family says his car had a sunroof and a wooden cross hanging from the rearview mirror. It had Missouri license plates reading MK6-E3P.

Police and Erwin's family ask that anyone with information about his whereabouts contact the Camden County Sheriff's Office at (573) 346-2243.