EUREKA, MO (KTVI) – Friday marks one week since a 25 year-old Boeing engineer went missing on the Meramec River. Jon Franklin was on a float trip with friends when they suddenly lost sight of him. Now, his loved ones are doing everything they can to find him.
Inside the Route 66 State Park is a boat ramp that’s served as a home base for first responders’ search efforts ever since last Friday. But they’re not the only searching from dawn until dusk. “It’s been ups and down, we know Jon, we hold onto the hope that he’s still out there and waiting to be found,” says Amanda Erwin, Jon’s brother’s longtime girlfriend.
That hope caused Amanda, along with Jon’s parents and his brother, Chris, to rush down from Peoria to help find him. Jon was raised in Peoria before moving to St. Charles to work for Boeing. Now, his family says they’ll stay in Eureka until they find him.
Erwin adds, “On Saturday afternoon, officials switched efforts from a search and rescue to a recovery, and the family, we just don’t believe that. We know he’s out there.”
Since Jon’s family doesn't know the area, they’ve been enlisting all the volunteers they can find, including those with boats and knowledge of the land. Erwin explains, “It’s just so dangerous we’re really wanting locals who know the river, who know how dangerous it can be with the floodwaters.”
That floodwater cast a shadow over their efforts, along with the tornadoes that struck the night he went missing. Erwin explains, “It could not have been worse. Within hours, the storm hit, the horrible tornado. Just knowing he was out there that night was so hard.”
Despite the rough conditions, the State Highway Patrol Water Division has been combing the river for the missing man every day.
And with the Boeing engineer’s intelligence and strength, his friends on the rafts that day said that Jon would be the last one they’d expect to go missing, but first to survive. Erwin says, “He’s a marathoner, Tough Mudder, he’s on a rowing club for fun. We’ve heard stories, they’ll do a three-hour really tough row practice, then he’s trying to get the rest of the team to run the three miles around the lake. He’s just so strong.”
If you’re interested in helping out, the family is looking for volunteers with boats and knowledge of the land. They plan to meet at the Route 66 State Park boat ramp around 9:30 Saturday morning.
More information can also be found on the “Bring Jon Franklin Home” facebook page.