IT has been two-and-a-half weeks since 68-year-old Raymond Horn disappeared from an Invercargill rest-home.
But civilian volunteers are refusing to give up hope.
Mr Horn, who has dementia, walks with a limp and is non-verbal, went missing from Walmsley House in Richmond on Monday, February 15.
Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) volunteers and police had been searching for him since
However, it was not just the professionals on a mission.
It all started with the social media group, “Bring Mr Raymond Horn Home”.
Founder Sue Hodson created it in response to the surge of concern from people who wanted to do more than just “sit at home and stress”.
Within 10 days, the group had more than 1000 members.
“LandSAR and police are doing an amazing job, they’ve covered so much area and we want just to help.
“We are very aware that we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and have checked with the family who support what we’re doing.”
During the first week of their search, about 150 volunteers rallied a day and at times, through wind and rain Queens Park and its surrounds. Recently, the meetings had stopped but people were still coming forward to help by dropping flyers in people’s mailboxes and delivering balloons to those who wanted to tie them to their fence in solidarity.
“It’s becoming a real push to keep it in people’s minds but we’ve distributed about 6000 flyers so far.
“Our focus at the moment is on the whole of Invercargill because Mr Horn could literally be anywhere.”
She was concerned about the fact there had been no national coverage of his disappearance and believed it would assist in the search for him.
“It was the weekend after Burt Munro [Challenge], maybe he’s been picked up and the person doesn’t know people are looking for him.
“Maybe someone does know where he is and that’s the missing piece of the puzzle.”
Despite the setback of police saying Mr Horn was now unlikely to be alive, and all the emotions which came with that, the group had “re-focused” and remained committed to finding him.
“We’ve renewed our sense of purpose as a group.”
Nearly two weeks ago, police released CCTV footage which showed Mr Horn on the corner of Yarrow and Mary Sts about 9.30am, just after he left Walmsley House, and then walking along Yarrow St towards Queens Dr.
The last confirmed sighting of him was captured at 2.10pm, the same day, near the children’s playground in Queens Park.
Senior Constable David Loader said police were still looking for the two people who were captured on CCTV footage as people of interest, however, they had not yet been identified.
“It is believed the two people sought by police may have seen Mr Horn.”
On the first weekend he was missing search and rescue teams used helicopters, sniffer dogs, and drained all of the park’s ponds in an effort to find him.
Detective Alun Griffiths urged the public to continue to check their sections, outbuildings and sheds in the greater Invercargill area.
Mr Horn is about 160cm tall and 55kgs. He is thought to be wearing a black jacket, light coloured polo-style shirt, sweat pants or jeans, and gym or slip-on shoes with white soles.
- If Mr Horn is seen, call 111 and quote event number P045508171.