LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A coroner confirmed Monday that a body found inside a car in a New Orleans bayou over the weekend was that of a missing teacher from Long Beach.
A volunteer diver discovered Terrilynn Monette’s Honda Accord in Bayou St. John on Saturday.
Monette, 26, left Southern California two years ago for a teaching position that was part of a program that places educators in impoverished communities.
She was last seen March 2 leaving a bar, where she was celebrating her nomination for “Teacher of the Year.”
Monette’s mother, Toni Enclade, spoke to KCAL9’s Rachel Kim via phone from New Orleans. She said the coroner used dental records to confirm Monette drowned in her car.
“She’s gone and I’m never going to see her face again. I can’t believe this has happened to her,” she cried. “The main question is…I just need to know…how did she get there?”
New Orleans police said the investigation will be treated as a traffic fatality with no foul play suspected.
“They said they were going to do a traffic reconstruction. They’re going to reconstruct what actually happened. Did she veer off the road? Was she hit?” said Enclade.
Family friend David Dirks said he wants to know why it took so long to find Monette.
“We’ve always, from day one, felt there should have been more. Somebody should have been doing more. I want to know…was she there for the whole three months?” he said.
Monette’s family plans to hold a memorial service in New Orleans.