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Friends distribute flyers of University of Utah student missing for 5 days

By Christina Giardinelli, KSL | Posted - Jun 23rd, 2019 @ 8:08am


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SALT LAKE CITY — Friends continued efforts Saturday to spread the word about a University of Utah student who has been missing for five days.

"We've been calling her phone nonstop," said Ashley Fine, who says she and Mackenzie Lueck, 23, are "sorority sisters" and have known each other for four years.

"We're millennials. (Not answering the phone) is very, very unusual. Even if you're missing, or you want to disappear, you have to turn your phone on to GPS," said Fine, noting that Lueck's bank account has also been inactive.

Fine said Lueck, a senior at the U. from El Segundo, California, has also missed exams which is unlike her. "She's extremely dedicated. She would never miss her midterms or anything like that. She hasn't been home. She didn't show up to work, or anything."

Fine and a number of Lueck's family friends, sorority sisters and volunteers were in Salt Lake City at Liberty Park on Saturday passing out flyers and asking people to spread the word about their friend's disappearance.

A statement released by the Salt Lake police on Saturday says Lueck went missing on Monday after returning from a visit to California.

Jolyn Mendelson, one of Lueck's cousins, said Friday that Lueck had texted her mother after arriving at the Salt Lake City International Airport at 1 a.m. on Monday. "She said the plane had landed and that was the last text she put out. Then she got into a Lyft car at the airport and that was the last she has been seen.”

The police statement said Lueck took a Lyft to an address in North Salt Lake. She was last seen at this location in the early morning hours on Monday.

Though officials would not release information about the North Salt Lake location, Salt Lake Police Sgt. Brandon Shearer said Saturday that it is not where Lueck lives.

Fine said Lueck lives with roommates near Trolley Square but noted that she has not been in touch with them. "I don't know why she would be going (to North Salt Lake) around 2 a.m. It's just very, very suspicious and dangerous," Fine said.

Shearer said police were waiting on "credible tips" but so far have not received any information that would lead them to believe that Lueck is in danger. He noted that both Lyft and the driver were being cooperative with investigations and said the driver is not under investigation.

On Saturday, Lyft released a statement saying, "We recognize how scary this must be for those who know and love Ms. Lueck. The safety of our community is fundamental to Lyft and we are actively assisting law enforcement with their investigation."

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The statement noted that there were no irregularities in the route the Lyft driver took and that it ended at the destination originally requested by Lueck. The driver kept providing other rides immediately after dropping off Lueck.

Fine said Lueck had been in California attending her grandmother's funeral and had been active on social media throughout the weekend.

In an Instagram post on June 13, Lueck posted a picture of her grandmother. The caption reads, "I’m sure many have already heard, heaven gained an angel on Monday. My grandmother, papa Gerry, was a hero to many."

Fine said she spoke with Lueck after finding out about her grandmother passing away. "That was my last call and talk with her," she said, noting that she's been in contact with Lueck's family "24/7" through a group chat. "They're extremely, extremely worried about her."

Heather Okiishi said she is a close family friend of Lueck. She noted that Lueck was set to return to California this week for a friend's wedding. "I don't think the family found out she was missing until she didn't show up for her flight to come back."

The group said they will continue raising awareness about the woman's disappearance before heading to the Utah Arts Festival to pass out more flyers there.

"I just want to say if she is hearing this or sees this article that we're looking for her. She needs to contact her family. If she's being held against her will, they need to let her go," Fine said.

Police are asking anyone with tips or information to contact them at 801-799-3000 regarding case 19-111129.

Email: cgiardinelli@deseretnews.com

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