With the search for missing Hampton resident Ethan Kazmerzak headed into a fifth day, many local residents have wondered if their help may be needed in the search.
Hampton police Chief Bob Schaefer said he would prefer that members of the public not engage in potentially dangerous search operations, but he did highly recommend that anyone who is interested in helping simply do so by being cognizant of possible signs of a car accident on local roads.
"I understand everyone wants to help, but I don't know what to tell them. We've searched a lot of the area where he was last seen already," Schaefer said. "We would want them to do it (search) safely. I don't want them out on a blacktop road and walking where there is no shoulder and maybe getting hurt. Also, a lot of that land is private."
Schaefer said that local authorities - including the Hampton Police Department, the Hampton Fire Department, and the Franklin County Sheriff's Department have engaged in many types of searches in an attempt to find Kazmerzak, who disappeared sometime after 12 a.m. on Sept. 15 after being at a party in rural Franklin County.
Additionally, Schaefer said out-of-county law enforcement agencies and volunteers have helped search for Kazmerzak, too. Included in those efforts were several days of aerial searches by two airplanes on Sept. 16 and then on Sept. 18, an additional three airplanes from the volunteer CERT group from Mason City and Cerro Gordo County. The Sept. 18 aerial search covered an area spanning four miles north and south of Highway 3 and from Interstate 35 to the west all the way to Aredale to the east.
On Sept. 19, a search and rescue dive team from the Story County Sheriff's Department scoured the murky depths of a gravel pit pond on the Petersen Farm property north of 190th Street and east of Nettle Avenue where the party that Kazmerzak was at was held.
Nothing was found by divers after four and a half hours in the water.
"We don't have a clue as to what happened," Schaefer said, although he added that Kazmerzak could have been involved in a car accident and that was one area where the public could help.
"The only thing would be, if they're out and about," Schaefer said of the public. "Be cognizant of ravines, ditches, any ponds around the area where he was last seen, or places where a car could have gone down and off the road."
"Farmers need to be watching their fields closely in case he might have gone off the road into the corn," Schaefer added.
The main thing Schaefer stressed, though, was that anyone who was interested in helping with the search do so safely and responsibly, not putting themselves or other members of the public in possible dangerous situations.
Kazmerzak is described as 5-feet, 5-inches tall and about 185 pounds. He has dark blonde hair with a reddish-colored beard. He was last seen wearing orange or peach-colored shorts and a teal or white printed shirt. He also has glasses and a Grateful Dead tattoo on his left arm.
Kazmerzak was seen in several area pubs on Sept. 14, including Pit Row and the Red Moose in Hampton as well as Duck's in Aredale. He was reportedly last seen at a party at a gravel pit pond located behind a house in the 1400 block of 190th Street. Police say his cell phone was last used at about 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 15 at the intersection of 190th Street and Olive Avenue and his ATM card has reportedly not been used since Sept. 14.
Anyone who sees Kazmerzak or his vehicle, or has any information about his possible location, is asked to immediately call the Hampton Police Department at (641) 456-2529. Police do not want members of the public to confront or interact with Kazmerzak merely because they are concerned if he knows he's been discovered, he may run away.