Promising 22 Year Old Indiana State University Student Vanishes
WHERE IS GERALD SMITH?
*As of Thursday, May 7, 2009, no new information has been reported on in the case of missing student, Gerald Smith.
Authorities are focusing on the Wabash River in their search for an Indiana State University student missing since he left a bar last week near the ISU campus.
Officials are using sonar to search the Wabash River for ISU senior Gerald Smith, while a West Lafayette company plans to conduct aerial searches with heat-sensing cameras to scour the riverbanks and railroad corridors around the university for the Avon native.
Police said Smith, 22, was known to visit a CSX Railroad truss bridge.
Campus police said Wednesday they have a potential new lead in the case.
The last sighting of Smith was initially thought to have been about 12:40 a.m. Friday, when he was asked to leave a bar about a block east of the Terre Haute campus because he was intoxicated. Smith had been with friends celebrating the completion of a class project.
ISU police said a witness has come forward who saw a man fitting Smith's description between 1:30 and 1:45 a.m Friday west of the campus talking with a man and woman in a gold Toyota Camry or a similar vehicle.
That conversation lasted two to four minutes before the man and the occupants of the car parted ways. The witness said the man was wearing a red Hawaiian shirt like the one Smith was last seen wearing early Friday.
Investigators said Smith used his iPhone to access the Internet at 1:14 a.m. Friday.
State conservation officers spent most of Tuesday searching the Wabash River for Smith while ISU officials raised reward money for information about his disappearance.
Department of Natural Resources spokesman Max Winchell said officers searched the river with side-scan sonar until late Tuesday afternoon between the U.S. 40 bridge and the CSX bridge.
He said teams will be scanning the waters each day for the next several weeks, or until they find something.
ISU spokesman Dave Taylor said Wednesday that a West Lafayette company will use aerial searches with heat-detecting cameras to canvass the riverbanks and railroad corridors around the university. He said he's not sure when those searches will begin.
ISU Police Chief Bill Mercier said that while there are no indications of foul play, the case is different from others he's investigated.
"We get a fair number of missing person reports that end quickly and are easily explained. But I've been in campus law enforcement for 25 years and never had an incident like this," he said.
Smith, an Avon High School graduate, is 5-foot-7, weighs 160 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. He wears glasses and has a light beard.