Search effort underway for missing LSU student whose car was found on Mississippi River bridge

Kori Gauthier was last seen Tuesday, her family said.

April 10, 2021, 9:34 PM

Authorities and volunteers are searching for a missing Louisiana State University student whose car was found abandoned on a Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge earlier this week.

Kori Gauthier, an 18-year-old freshman at LSU, was last seen Tuesday, her family said.

Officers found her car early Wednesday on the eastbound side of the Horace Wilkinson Bridge on Interstate 10 after someone crashed into it, police said. Her car was left unoccupied on the bridge, which is about 2 miles from the university campus, for at least an hour before the crash, Baton Rouge ABC affiliate WBRZ reported.

"At this time, based on evidence collected during the investigation thus far, law enforcement officials suspect that no criminal activity or foul play took place," LSU said in a statement Saturday night.

PHOTO: Kori Gauthier, a freshman at LSU, was last seen Tuesday, April 6, 2021. Her car was found on a bridge in Baton Rouge, La., after being hit by another vehicle.
Kori Gauthier, a freshman at LSU, was last seen Tuesday, April 6, 2021. Her car was found on a bridge in Baton Rouge, La., after being hit by another vehicle.
LSU Police Department

Her father, Levar Gauthier, said they only found out Kori was missing when she didn't show up to an orthodontist appointment or dance class on Wednesday. Her daughter's former roommate used a tracking app on her phone to pinpoint Kori's car sitting at a tow lot. He said police did not contact them before or after towing her car away even though the driver was nowhere to be found following the crash.

Her keys, phone and wallet were all found inside the car, according to her parents.

"A fool would've contacted somebody for additional help seeing a situation like that," her father told ABC News about his daughter's car being found empty after the crash. "I mean it's to the point now I can't be nice anymore. My daughter's still out there somewhere and I was trying to be respectful before but I'm becoming very irate now."

Search efforts have been underway in the days since her car was found, including local authorities, the United Cajun Navy and volunteers. A Baton Rouge Police Department dive team has been searching the Mississippi River, WBRZ reported.

"I'm angry, I'm in pain, but I appreciate everything people are doing," Levar Gauthier said.

On Saturday evening, LSU said search efforts were continuing along the Mississippi River and a cadaver dog "alerted twice in the same area on the river," but the depth of water -- about 85 to 90 feet -- and conditions made further search efforts in the area impossible.

PHOTO: The area around the Mississippi River Bridge is being searched in an effort to find 18-year-old LSU student Kori Gauthier in Baton Rouge, La., April 9, 2021.
The area around the Mississippi River Bridge is being searched in an effort to find 18-year-old LSU student Kori Gauthier in Baton Rouge, La., April 9, 2021.
WBRZ

The search effort was expected to resume in the area on Sunday with sonar equipment.

On Friday, over 300 people were involved in the search, according to the United Cajun Navy, which has been employing volunteers on foot, horseback, all-terrain vehicles, drones, boats and helicopters.

The search resumed early Saturday morning, as the community prayed for Kori Gauthier to be found safe.

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