DUNKERTON, Iowa (Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier) -- According to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, about 50 friends and relatives of Rhonda Apfel joined authorities in a search for the missing woman Tuesday, a day after she was reported missing.
While Black Hawk sheriff’s deputies, conservation officers and Dunkerton firefighters searched the Wapsipinicon River by boat, volunteers worked their way along the banks.
Apfel, 47, of Waterloo, was reported missing Monday, and a resident later reported an unattended motorcycle parked at Bruggeman Wildlife Area, located along the Wapsi River northeast of Dunkerton. The motorcycle turned out to be Apfel’s, officials said.
Apfel’s shoes and jacket also were found at the park.
Authorities searched the park Monday, starting around 10 a.m. and working until dark.
Friend Laura Christensen of Cedar Falls said Rhonda Apfel normally becomes withdrawn around Memorial Day since losing her father, John Habbena, to a motorcycle crash in Florida in 2013 and her brother, Michael Habbena, to a heart problem in 2015.
“It’s a rough time of year,” Christensen said.
Husband Monte Apfel said Rhonda often travels to the Dunkerton area around the holiday to reflect.
“I think she waded in to cool off” and was taken by the current, Monte Apfel said.
Her father’s ashes were scattered nearby at a farm that had been a popular camping spot for the family, he said.
Monte Apfel said he was told Rhonda Apfel had gone to the camping area over the weekend but found people she didn’t know there and apparently continued on before stopping at the wildlife area off of East Bennington Road.
The husband said officials checked to see if the motorcycle — which had been her father’s old bike before he moved to Florida — had suffered mechanical problems, but the motorcycle started up without trouble.