Friends and family of missing LSU student Kori Gauthier of Opelousas are praying for her safe return.
Gauthier has been missing since early Wednesday morning, when her car, which was stopped and running, was hit on the Mississippi River bridge, but Gauthier was nowhere to be found.
Friday night, her family, friends, and strangers took the lead in the search and paused to pray for the best.
Efforts to find the LSU freshman continued throughout Baton Rouge Friday and will resume Saturday morning. Those searching hope that it leads to Gauthier finally being located.
Family members and LSU students started at the levee around 8 a.m. Friday morning.
"They have been emotionally distressed this whole process and other family members as well," said Spencer Gauthier, Kori's uncle. "But just me personally, I just keep walking and keep looking."
Gauthier's disappearance hits close to home for some LSU students.
"Kori is one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet, very nice, kind-hearted, very caring and just for her to disappear like that, you just think the worst," Kori's friend Ronald Riggs said. "You hate to think the worst but when something like that happens, you can only think the worst."
Student Tierra Martin added, "As a black female, I feel like people tend to overlook these types of things and it's really important that we get the word out and make sure everybody's helping."
The United Cajun Navy flew helicopters over the Mississippi River, while Baton Rouge law enforcement also helped with search efforts, using boats to survey the Mississippi from below.
"This could've been my sister, my niece" said Raheem Pierce with the Cajun Navy. "So I want to help out as much as I can."
A prayer vigil followed Friday's search, with those close to Gauthier feeling a renewed sense of hope.
"It makes me feel good that everybody's trying to come out and support. I know we're all confused but I'm trying to keep the hope and I feel like it's going to be okay, so I feel good," family friend Niyah Hampton stated.
Search efforts for Gauthier will continue Saturday morning with an ATV search of the levee. The United Cajun Navy is asking that any volunteers interested in helping to search for Kori Gauthier to meet them at 8 a.m. at the Flag Pole in front of the LSU Veterinary School on the LSU Campus.
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