THE INVESTIGATORS: BRPD did not contact registered owner after missing girl’s car was found abandoned on bridge

BRPD did not contact registered owner after missing girl’s car was found

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Days after Kori Gauthier went missing, the 9News Investigators are asking whether officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department dropped the ball, wasting precious seconds in the search after they responded to the wreck where Gauthier’s abandoned car was found.

Family says they didn’t know Gauthier was missing until she didn’t show up for work. Now the question becomes why didn’t police notify the registered owner of the car after the crash on the Mississippi River Bridge.

There are more questions than answers Friday as the search intensifies in the air, on land and in the water for the missing LSU freshman. The biggest question that remains is why more wasn’t done the moment someone else crashed into Gauthier’s car early Tuesday.

RELATED: LSU student reported missing after car found on Mississippi River Bridge

Devin Jones, the man who slammed into Gauthier’s car on the bridge said nobody was inside when he went to check the car.

“And when they swerved over and cut lanes, all I saw was a parked car so I locked up my brakes because it was either the white car or the 18-wheeler,” said Jones.

According to police her car was 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. Her dad, Levar Gauthier, says he only found out his daughter was missing after his wife couldn’t get ahold of her Wednesday.

“Her mom called me multiple times and that’s highly unusual and she sent me a text that my daughter wasn’t answering her phone... so I immediately started calling and trying to contact her and got nothing,” Gauthier said.

The one step police didn’t take was notifying the owner of the abandoned car. Once he found out she was missing, her dad says he raced to Baton Rouge.

“I left LaPlace from work and I came to Baton Rouge and that’s kind of how the process got started,” Gauthier said.

BRPD says their main focus was to move the car off the bridge to prevent any other crashes. They released the following statement to WAFB Friday afternoon.

“On April 7, 2021 shortly after midnight we responded to the Horace Wilkinson Bridge regarding a reported accident involving a stalled vehicle. Upon arrival the officer observed the stalled vehicle was unoccupied. The officer acted quickly to have the vehicle removed from the roadway to prevent any other crashes. The registered owner of the unoccupied vehicle was not contacted, but this investigation remained ongoing.”

As shock turns to worry for her father, every second that passes is another second his precious angel is still missing. Tonight, even with time seemingly running out to bring her home safely, the family is not giving up.

“I mean we won’t stop until we know something about my daughter,” said Gauthier.

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