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The family of a missing Louisiana State University college student is desperately searching for answers after stumbling upon a mysterious set of clues this week, including the missing woman’s badly damaged vehicle abandoned along a bridge.
Spencer Gauthier said in a plea on Facebook on Friday that his niece, Kori Gauthier, was last seen on Tuesday. Her vehicle was involved in an accident on the Mississippi River bridge around 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The driver who struck her car told local station KATC that no one had been inside the vehicle at the time.
Devin Jones said he had been driving in the outside lane on the bridge when he spotted Kori Gauthier’s vehicle parked in the same lane. He wasn’t able to avoid it in time and crashed into the vehicle.
“The car in front of me swerved over and cut lanes, all I saw was a parked car,” he said. “I locked up my brakes. Hit the white car. It was either the car or an 18-wheeler.”
Jones said he was unable to find any sign of a driver.
Her family told The Acadiana Advocate that they didn’t learn that she was missing until the following day when she failed to show up for work and to a doctor’s appointment.
Spencer Gauthier said the family pinged her phone, then learned it was at a Baton Rouge salvage yard inside the damaged vehicle.
"Nobody reached out from the wreck," Spencer told the paper. "No police, no ambulance, nothing. I don't know where the ball was dropped."
A Baton Rouge Police spokesperson confirmed to the paper that they had handled the wreck but said that LSU Police are now in charge of the investigation into Kori Gauthier’s disappearance.
Oxygen.com reached out to both the Baton Rouge Police and LSU Police but did not receive an immediate response.
Spencer said he rushed to Baton Rouge to help aid in the search and has offered $10,000 of his own money to “anyone who helps lead her home,” he said on Facebook.
Spencer told The Acadiana Advocate that the family has learned that his niece and her boyfriend had gotten into an argument Tuesday night. After looking at the last address entered into the GPS in the car, he believes she may have been on the way to her aunt’s house when she disappeared.
"If I had to paint the picture of the model child and model personality, it would be Kori," he said. "Someone who never gave her parents any issues on any level, the sweetest person you would ever meet. She would volunteer and help other youth, teaching them how to dance and other things. It was raising flags when she didn't show up for class, a doctor's appointment, work. She didn't answer calls, and we knew something was wrong."
Spencer said on social media that since arriving in the area he has checked “every hospital, jail, coroners office” and has still found no sign of his missing niece — although her personnel belongings were found inside the vehicle.
“Her phone, car, wallet everything has been recovered, we just can’t recover her physically,” he said in a video posted on Facebook Thursday after a day of exhaustive searching.
Spencer said the Cajun Navy planned do a helicopter sweep of the Mississippi River on Friday.
“I am not giving up on her,” he said. “She coming home.”
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