A search is underway for a 25-year-old woman who went missing Thursday night after she called 911 from a highway in Hoover, Alabama, to report that she had seen a toddler walking along the side of the interstate, authorities said.
The Hoover Police Department reports that Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell called 911 emergency dispatchers just after 9:30 p.m. local time Thursday and informed them that she had stopped to check on a young child that she had seen walking on the side of Interstate 459.
Police said that after speaking to 911, Russell immediately called a family member. During that call, the family member “lost contact with” Russell, “but the line remained open,” Hoover Police Lt. Daniel Lowe said in a news conference Friday.
Responding officers located Russell’s abandoned car along with some of her belongings nearby, Lowe said, but no sign of her or a child.
“A single witness has reported possibly seeing gray vehicle with a light-complected male standing outside of Carlee’s vehicle, but we have no further information on that individual or the vehicle at this time,” Lowe said.
Russell was on her way home from work after having stopped off to pick up food, police said.
Talitha Russell, Carlee’s mother, told reporters that her daughter was on the phone with her sister-in-law at the time that her voice dropped out.
“She’s known to be helpful and she has a big heart,” Talitha Russell said of Carlee. “And she does know not to stop for anyone, even a child on the side of the road. But she did call 911. And I think she kind of let her guard down thinking they were so close. And when she got out the car, she did tell my daughter-in-law, ‘I can’t just leave this little child on the side of the road.'”
Lowe said a massive search was ongoing involving local, state and federal agencies. A large group of volunteers organized by Russell’s parents were also assisting in the search effort.