Alexander Zacarías rode a bus for 30 hours and 1,300 miles from Louisiana to Arizona to continue the search last weekend for his daughter Diana, a 22-year-old university student who disappeared in the Grand Canyon early last month.
"Oh God, my little girl, this does not make sense," he told Univision News. "It's such a deep wound. It is so difficult to walk through life with a feeling, a pain like this."
More than a month ago Diana Zacarías went on her first solo adventure, which would later become her family’s worst nightmare.
“I told her that she should go on this trip with her mom, but she wanted to do it on her own,” said Alexander Zacarías. “She was shy. It was a big dream (of her's) and we thought this could be a big challenge and help her personally.”
He worried when he dropped her at the airport in Louisiana, but his faith gave him the confidence to let her go.
“Under her jacket, she wore a shirt that said Pray more, Worry less," said Zacarías, with tearful eyes.
The first day of her trip, Diana talked to her parents and updated her Facebook profile photo.
“I was so proud of her, seeing her smiling and happy, making her dream true,” said her father.
But now a mystery hangs over what happened to Diana on her second day at the Grand Canyon.
After being reported missing April 3, park rangers started an intense search but found nothing. In a statement, the National Park Service said that it was on ongoing investigation, and that the search of Zacarías is in a continuous but limited mode. Rangers and pilots would continue to search for clues when visiting the area, the park authorities said.
Her father isn't satisfied and has started a new search on his own.
However, the entrance of the Bright Angel Trail and the waterfalls in the
Havasupai Indian Reservation are 150 miles apart and it's hard to imagine they could be done in one day.
Although it is unlikely she did both, her father won't leave out any possibility. During his visit to Arizona, he drove to Havasupai Indian Reservation to leave flyers with information of his missing daughter. Then he drove to Tuyasan, the closest town to the Grand Canyon, to start a new search inside the park the next morning.
“It is very confusing. Maybe she got lost, had an accident, maybe she met someone and left,” her father said. Those scenarios haunt him.
Zacarías is confident that his daughter didn’t kill herself by jumping into the Grand Canyon.
“We cannot believe that. She never tried to hurt herself… if we had any experience that would tell us that Diana could take her life, we would have not have let her come on this trip,” he said. If she planned to kill herself, why, on the day she disappeared, did she buy a t-shirt and postcards in the Grand Canyon shop? Why did she post in Facebook a photo looking so happy?"
The last transaction registered on her credit card was the purchase of that t-shirt and postcards at the Grand Canyon’s shop. That photo was the last thing she posted in her Facebook.
Overcoming bad weather during the search
At 6 a.m. Zacarías leaves the hotel to start a new search inside the park.
He looks up to a cloudy sky. A combination of light snow and rain falls on his face as a storm approaches. With a backpack full of flyers, Zacarías stops at each lookout point in the Grand Canyon putting up Diana’s photo with the hope someone can provide information about her.
Some people look at him with curiosity, while others comfort him.
Zacarías looked away, trying to hide his tears. Although visitors tell him that they are sorry for his loss, he believes his daughter is alive.
“Maybe one day she will return home triumphant saying: dad, look at your daughter, I was able to go on my own without you guys,” said Zacarías weeping.
He loooked down at the Grand Canyon as the storm intensified. Despite the weather conditions, Zacarías decided to go down part of the Bright Angel trail, which descends over 6,000 feet all the way to the Colorado River.
“We have no motivation, no interest (in life) if we don’t have her,” he concluded, stopping to pull out binoculars to scan the canyon floor.
If the weather improves, the park’s rangers will resume another search on Friday around the Mohave Point. The authorities traced her telephone and that is the area where her cell signal was recorded for the last time.
Univision Arizona contacted local and federal authorities. They didn't disclose information about this case, but they assure it is an ongoing investigation.
If you have information about Diana, call Silent Witness at
928-638-7840 or her family at 318-471-1128.