Vigil planned for missing NSU student as search enters third month

Vigil planned for missing NSU student as search enters third month
Lorena Corona posted this photo of her niece Diana Zacarias on April 4. (Source: Lorena Corona's Facebook page)
Lorena Corona posted this photo of her niece Diana Zacarias on April 4. (Source: Lorena Corona's Facebook page)

NATCHITOCHES, LA (KSLA) - Family and friends are not giving up hope on finding Northwestern State student Diana Zacarias, the 22-year-old Northwestern State student who has now been missing in the Grand Canyon in Arizona for nearly three months.

Just by seeing her face and hearing from family about Zacarias, Natchitoches resident and family friend Patricia Miller said she knows the straight-A Engineering senior didn't just run off.

"She is a very bright, happy, intelligent person," Miller said. "I mean, she had her goals laid out. She was ready."

She believes an accident occurred at some point on Zacarias' spring break trip to Grand Canyon National Park.

"I'm sure. I'm positive somebody saw her," said Miller.

Zacarias has been missing in the Grand Canyon since April 3. Diana's family reported her missing when she missed her flight home on Sunday before she was set to return to school on Monday at Northwestern State University. They know she took a shuttle to the South Rim of the canyon on Saturday and was dropped off at the Maswick Lodge. She's believed to have visited Yaki Point and Lookout Studio.

Her parents, Alex and Rosa, left to search again last week, acting on a tip that she may have been seen.

Park rangers report they're in 'limited but continuous search mode,' which means that whenever rangers are in the area Zacarias is believed to be in, they'll conduct a search. At the moment, they said they're concentrating on Hermit Road, a popular sightseeing route in the park.

At the moment, according the the Grand Canyon National Park website, Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles through November 30. The website also warns that the park is under a heat warning with some parts of the canyon growing as hot as 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

Zacarias' parents have made the trip there several times since their daughter went missing.

"At one time, they did a helicopter search," Miller said. "The guy that had the helicopter, he told Alex and Rosa, 'There's no charge.'"

But these searches cost money. Miller started the GoFundMe account "Find Diana Zacarias," which has so far raised more than $4,700 for the family. Miller delivered a check to the family last week.

"They had a credit card that they had ran up," she said. "I said, 'Will this help?' And he said, 'Oh, Ms. Trish, this will help.'"

Miller hopes others will give to the family's search to make sure Zacarias doesn't become another statistic.

"Cold case," Miller said with a shake of her head. "As a community, we refuse to let that happen."

A vigil has been planned for next Saturday, July 9 at 7 p.m. down on the riverbank in Natchitoches inside Beau Jardin Park. The community is invited to attend to help support the search.

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