College student still missing 1 week after ride-hailing from Utah airport

Salt Lake City Police Department

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By Kerry Breen

A University of Utah student is still missing a week after flying from Southern California to Salt Lake City. She used ride-hailing service Lyft from the airport and hasn't been heard from since, according to police.

Mackenzie Lueck, 23, of El Segundo, California, flew to the Utah capital on Sunday, June 16, and texted her parents about her safe arrival at the airport at approximately 1 a.m. the next morning, according to Sgt. Brandon Shearer of the Salt Lake City Police Department. Police were notified of her disappearance on June 20.

"She took a Lyft from the airport to an address in North Salt Lake, and that was the last place she was seen," Shearer told TODAY over the phone. "Detectives have canvassed the area, and the area she was last seen in. There is no information to lead us to where she may have gone or why she went to that specific place in Salt Lake."

Shearer said they are asking anyone with any information to come forward. Statements and updates have been posted on the department's Facebook page.

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Lyft has been cooperating with the investigation, according to Shearer, and the police have "no reason to suspect" the driver. While the exact location of the drop-off hasn't been publicly shared, police said it was about 8 miles north of the University of Utah, where Lueck is a nursing student.

Lyft confirmed that the drive "contained no irregularities and ended at the destination entered by the rider." The company also said the driver continued to give rides immediately after Lueck's service ended.

"We recognize how scary this must be for those who know and love Ms. Lueck," said the company in a statement to TODAY, provided by Lauren Alexander, Lyft's policy communications manager. "The safety of our community is fundamental to Lyft, and we are actively assisting law enforcement with their investigation."

Lueck's friends and family have been organizing search parties, sharing flyers and trying to spread the word about her disappearance. While the police have stated there is no information to make them suspect that Lueck is in danger or has been harmed, her friends reported that she has not shown up to classes, midterm exams or at her workplace. There has been no activity on her social media accounts, and phone calls have gone unanswered.

"For her not to reach out to me, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, anything, is very unlike her," said Kennedy Stoner, Lueck's close friend and sorority sister, in a news conference on Sunday afternoon. "Kenzie, if you can hear this, we are all worried and looking out for you 24/7. We are not able to sleep. I cannot sleep at night knowing you're out there, and I am constantly thinking of you. Please let us know if you are safe."

A family statement confirmed that Lueck hasn't been in touch with any family or friends. The statement also said that Lueck had been planning to fly from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles on June 23, but she wasn't on the flight.

"Our primary goal is to find Mackenzie and bring her home," said friend Ashley Fine, while reading a statement from Lueck's family at the press conference. "Her family is grateful for the concern, prayers and tireless efforts of the Salt Lake City police and members of the community."

The full statements were shared on a Facebook page dedicated to finding Lueck.

Lueck's disappearance comes as ride-sharing apps fall under increasing scrutiny. In April, a student from the University of South Carolina was killed after getting into a car that she'd mistaken for her Uber ride, prompting the "What's My Name?" campaign, which encourages riders to ask drivers to confirm whom they are picking up.

Several sexual assaults by Uber drivers have been reported, leading to the creation of new safety features, including the ability to directly connect with police in an emergency. "Riverdale" star Lili Reinhart also shared a story about being "lured" by a fake ride-share driver earlier this month.

According to Stoner's statement, Lueck is approximately 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and 120 pounds, with blond hair and brown eyes. She also has a tattoo of a dream catcher on the center of her back.

Anyone with information about Lueck’s whereabouts can contact the Salt Lake City Police Department at 801-799-3000 and reference case No. 19-111129.