ST. PAUL -- On Dan Zamlen's 19th birthday, the search for the Eveleth native entered its fourth day Wednesday with police and family defiantly refusing to let hope wane.
Zamlen, a Type I diabetic, was last heard from about 2:45 a.m. Sunday when he was having a cell phone conversation after leaving a party. Search and rescue crews have combed the bluffs area around Zamlen's last known location but have not announced finding any significant clues.
At a news conference Wednesday at the University of St. Thomas, where Zamlen was a student, his father pleaded for community assistance.
"He's out there and he can survive, because he's a tough kid," Dale Zamlen said. "I'm just asking for your help, from the community. Help me find my son. Help me find him alive."
Throughout the news conference, Dale Zamlen's voice cracked every so often -- most noticeably when he said the family probably would have celebrated Dan's birthday with a family dinner and cake on Friday when he came home for Easter break.
Afterward, St. Paul police acknowledged the first-response tactics for finding a missing person -- checking cell phone and bank records, scent dogs -- had yet to produce significant results.
Over the weekend, scent dogs detected Zamlen's scent near the oak-clad bluffs around St. Clair Avenue and Mississippi River Boulevard, but the river's high and fast waters have stymied police efforts to get officers on horseback and ATV onto the beach. The river's swollen condition also has prevented the use of search boats so far.
Although St. Paul police have stopped actively searching, they are offering assistance to family and friends who are trying to spread the word about Zamlen's disappearance.
Chris Ismil, the coordinator of the search and rescue efforts, said he hoped up to 500 volunteers would show up to canvass the neighborhood to drum up awareness for Zamlen. The plan was for groups of three students -- a talker, a note-taker and a "smiler" -- to knock on doors and ask residents to double-check woodsheds and garages, in case Zamlen sought refuge there and has since become comatose.
"There's definitely hope," Ismil said. "There's definitely hope that Dan is still alive."
Zamlen left a party early Sunday after he became upset, friends said. He had been drinking, they said.
"Dan took good care of himself," Dale Zamlen said Wednesday. "This was not a kid who was a big partier."
Shinay Rasmussen, Brittaney Letourneu and Meg Hafdahl, who all attended Virginia High School with Zamlen, began walking through the neighborhood around St. Clair Avenue around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. They planned to be out until 8 p.m.
"People are being very open to listening to us," Rasmussen said. "I think there's definitely still hope that he's still alive and can be brought home safe."
Zamlen's family and friends said earlier Wednesday they're not done looking for him.
"We are not going back up north until we find my brother," his sister, Andrea, said.
Andrea, a junior at Virginia High School, said she would particularly like to see more faces from the Northland join in the search.
"The more kids I see from the Range that I have known since I was little, that helps a lot," she said. "They are the people that have known my brother since he was little."
She added that the support the family has gotten from the St. Thomas community has also been extraordinary.
A search operations center is located in the Fireside Room of Koch Commons on the Murray-Herrick Campus at St. Thomas.
Anybody interested in volunteering can learn more information about where to go and how to help by going to www.stthomas.edu and clicking on the purple "missing student" tab.
News Tribune staff writer Sarah Horner contributed to this report.