Hayley Howard's body and car found in Irish Bayou - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Hayley Howard's body and car found in Irish Bayou

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Hayley Howard Hayley Howard

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - New Orleans police on Wednesday found the body of missing college student Hayley Howard in her car, submerged in Irish Bayou. NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas calls it a tragic end to the case.

Police are calling Hayley Howard's death a fatal accident. NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas says, "It appears that she veered to the right off the interstate system and rode on the grass until she hit the water."

Howard's friends and family stood by and watched as her silver Toyota Corolla was pulled from Irish Bayou Wednesday afternoon. Sharing hugs and tears, the sights were too overwhelming for some. Many of these people spent days searching for the 19-year-old University of New Orleans student who was last seen alive Saturday morning.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain says, "It isn't, as you know, the way we wanted this scenario to turn out but at least the family has some closure."

Along with NOPD officers and deputies from the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office, more than 100 volunteers helped look for Howard.

"All the volunteers, there's been a remarkable group out here. It's been a long, hard five days and right now the family needs the family, and they appreciate everything and they're just going through their grieving process," said Howard's friend, Alyssa Atilano.

After drinks at an Uptown bar, Howard went to UNO to drop off a friend at a campus dorm early Saturday morning. The family says she and her boyfriend had a phone conversation, and that she told him she was going to go thank two people who had helped her with a flat tire earlier. Then Howard headed to a party in Slidell. Her cell phone last pinged near the Irish Bayou area at six a.m. but police can't say if that's when the accident happened.

"The cell phone systems are accurate in a lot of ways, but in a lot of ways there's a lot of overlap so it's not always perfect information," said Serpas.

Searching both land and water near Irish Bayou, investigators ended up along I-10 Wednesday afternoon. A St. Tammany Parish crew found the car in the water. The NOPD dive team recovered the vehicle with Howard's body in it. "This is not the way you wanted this to end and it's a very young life lost and we'll know more in the next couple weeks," said Serpas.

Toxicology tests will be performed on Howard's body. Those results will be released in a few weeks.

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