NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The search has widened for a college student from Long Island who disappeared from Northwestern University outside Chicago and now includes the Coast Guard, FBI and dive teams.
Harsha Maddula vanished Saturday around 12:30 a.m. following an off-campus party with friends. There’s been no trace of the 18-year-old student and there has been no recent activity on his cell phone or credit card.
Friends said when Maddula left the off-campus party late Friday, he was coherent and did not appear to be drunk. A few hours later, he answered his cell and told a classmate he was headed back to his dorm, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
The FBI, Northwestern University Police and other law enforcement agencies have expanded their search to include Wilmette Harbor on Lake Michigan. Investigators determined the last signal received from Maddula’s cell phone was in that area, which is about two miles from the Evanston campus.
Divers from local fire departments and the U.S. Coast Guard are searching the waters and also checking boats docked in the harbor, according to the university.
There is also no sign of Maddula on school surveillance cameras and he hasn’t used the electronic key to his dorm, according to the university. His heartbroken parents, who live in New Hyde Park, delivered a desperate plea Wednesday afternoon, asking anyone who may know anything to come forward.
Maddula’s picture is plastered on flyers throughout campus and Andrew Holmes, a victim’s advocate, has been lending a hand in the search by extensively interviewing students.
“You had over 47 students at the affair but no one seems to have seen this young man who was there,” Holmes said. “So some students may know who he was with, who he left with and it’s important that students speak up.
Madulla’s parents are losing hope as the search turns up nothing. His close-knit family worries that Madulla’s disappearance could be medical and related to his recently-diagnosed diabetes.
“He’s not picking up the phone since Friday night,” said his father, Prasad Maddula. “We are really upset that he’s missing. I hope he’ll come safe.”
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports
“At this point, I don’t know,” his mother Dhannalakshmi Maddula said. “I hope he’s alive. I hope we can find him.”
Sonia Maddula told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera that her cousin’s disappearance is very out of character.
“I’m very scared for his safety,” she said.
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports
WCBS 880’s Mike Xiranachs reports
On Long Island, neighbors said Madulla’s parents left for Illinois urgently and tearfully. At a nearby Hindu temple, family friends said the disappearance is totally uncharacteristic of the brilliant teen student.
“We are going to temple right now and we want to pray,” Pradip Mehta told CBS 2’s McLogan.
Madulla loved soccer and music and science at New Hyde Park High School, where his talents were celebrated.
“The real shock among the teachers is the fact that this boy was an exceptional student, well-liked by all the other kids in his class,” said teacher James Stagnitta.
Madulla’s family owns and operates a popular neighborhood pharmacy on Queens Boulevard, where the missing student worked during summers.
“It’s unimaginable for this to happen to a family and hit so close to home,” said pharmacist Elizabeth Valazquez.
The university described Maddula as being 5-f00t-8 and weighing approximately 150 pounds with black hair, dark brown eyes and wearing black-framed glasses.
He was last seen wearing a grey long sleeve sweater with white and black stitching, dark grey pants and brown shoes.
Anyone with information is being asked to call Northwestern University Police at 847-491-3254. For more information, visit www.northwestern.edu.
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