Search intensifies for missing college freshman Kori Gauthier whose car was found abandoned

ByKay Jones and Theresa Waldrop, CNN, CNNWire
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Search effort intensifies for missing LSU student
Kori Gauthier, a freshman at LSU, has not been seen since Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Her car was found on a bridge in Baton Rouge, La., after being hit by another vehicle.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The search for a Louisiana State University freshman missing since Tuesday has been narrowed down to one section of the Mississippi River, the school said in its latest update.

Kori Gauthier's car was found unoccupied at the scene of an accident on the Mississippi River bridge on Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge, according to LSU. The Louisiana Department of Transportation confirmed there was an accident early Wednesday morning on the I-10 bridge that shut down two lanes of traffic.

Citing the Baton Rouge Police Department, CNN affiliate WAFB reported that Gauthier's car appeared to be abandoned, left running on the bridge.

"Once officers got to the scene, they found Gauthier's personal belongings -- including her phone -- inside and they had her car towed to a junkyard," WAFB reported.

Mounted patrol, boats with sonar to be deployed

The search was narrowed down after a K-9 cadaver dog alerted the same area of the river twice earlier on Saturday, the school said in its statement.

The conditions of the area were unsafe and divers were not deployed, the statement said, but mounted patrol will search a levee along the river on Sunday and the latest sonar technology will be used by law enforcement on boats.

Law enforcement believes no criminal activity or foul play took place, based on the evidence that was collected, the statement added.

The school's police department has been in touch with Gauthier's parents, and they are sharing details with them privately, LSU said.

Gauthier's father, Levar Gauthier, joined the search on Friday and the family held a vigil Friday evening near the site where her car was found, according to WAFB.

"I haven't eaten since Wednesday at work for lunch," Levar Gauthier told WAFB on Friday. "I've maybe gotten four hours of sleep in the last couple of days and her mom hadn't gotten that much, I'm sure. I get a cat nap here and there but I mean we won't stop until we know something about my daughter."

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré said on Twitter Saturday that he would be joining the United Cajun Navy and volunteers from Southern University on the search. He asked for volunteers to help with water, air and land search.

Gauthier is an 18-year-old freshman at LSU. She is 5 feet, 5 inches and weighs between 115 to 120 pounds with dark brown hair and brown eyes, according to LSU's statement.

CNN has reached out to Baton Rouge Police for additional details on the accident and the search.