Slidell police diver helped solve 2 tragic cases in New Orleans - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Slidell police diver helped solve 2 tragic cases in New Orleans

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SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) - One of the men who helped in the search for a missing UNO student has a recent history of helping solve tragic cases of missing women in new Orleans.

The Orleans Parish coroner ruled Thursday afternoon that 19-year-old UNO student Haley Howard drowned in her car in Irish Bayou. The search for Howard was a grim, four-day affair.

"When that call is made, we're going to offer our assistance," said Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith.

The search for Howard ended tragically Wednesday evening when her body was found by a multi-jurisdictional coalition. For Slidell police diver Mark Michaud, it was a search that began Sunday when Howard's parents called him personally to ask for help.

"It's hard to watch when you have something you can do," Michaud said.

Michaud, a diver with 20 years of experience, was part of a dive team that included officers from the New Orleans Police Department, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office and Slidell. He was called in again Thursday, in large part because of his expertise.

"I was notified by Chief Serpas, who requested Mark Michaud," said Smith.

Michaud's knowledge of the area allowed him to rule out certain places and search in others. He was there when Howard's Toyota was found in about eight feet of water just off Interstate 10.

"You could see the car two feet below the surface," he said.

Michaud is said to be one of the best divers in the region and was crucial to the discovery of teacher Terrilyn Monette last June.

"I had a lot of knowledge of that area even before Sunday because of  Terrilyn," he said.

Though the duty is unpleasant, he knows he can help families in their darkest times. He still talks frequently with Monette's mother.

"It's a double-edged sword," he said. "It feels good, but you see some of the worst. But at the same time, when you talk to the families, it's hard."

But he knows it has to be done.

"We talk about closure. It's not easy, but they can move on and remember the good memories," he said.

As the Howard's grieve, Michaud grieves too, hopeful that in some small way, he has been able to help a family in their toughest time.

Michaud said he has been involved in about five search-and-recoveries in his 20 years on the Slidell police force.

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