Preliminary investigation indicates UNO student's death was an a - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Preliminary investigation indicates UNO student's death was an accident

Updated:

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Investigators searching for a missing UNO student confirmed the discovery Wednesday of her body in a car in Irish Bayou.

NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas said it appears that 19-year-old Hayley Howard's death was an accident.

"It appears that she veered to the right off the interstate system and rode on the grass until she hit the water," he said.

NOPD's Third District Investigations Unit had been searching with St. Tammany deputies since Hayley was reported missing by her father at about 4 p.m. on March 1.  At the time, Hayley had neither been seen nor heard from since about 2 a.m.

A friend said Hayley had left the University of New Orleans' campus and was planning to stop and thank a couple of people who had helped her earlier with a flat tire. Hayley then intended to head to a party to meet up with friends in Slidell.  She never arrived at the party, and she didn't return to her home in Slidell.     

Detectives pinged Hayley's cell phone, and the results indicated that the phone was somewhere in the Irish Bayou area. A search and rescue team was assembled, and investigators disseminated a boat unit, helicopters and ground units in both Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. 

A car was pulled from the bayou early Wednesday evening, and Serpas said the body inside appeared to be Howard's.

Toxicology tests are pending.

Speaking for the family, a friend of Hayley's thanked everyone who participated in the search and who used social media to spread word of her disappearance.

FOX 8 will have complete coverage of this story at 9 and 10 p.m.


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