The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 25, 2011

Families turn to social media to locate the missing

JOPLIN, Mo. — Family and friends on Wednesday continued the frantic search for Will Norton, an 18-year-old who hasn’t been seen since Sunday’s tornado.

“It feels like we’re actually in a tornado in some ways,” said Tracey Presslor, Norton’s aunt.

Presslor and several others desperately seeking missing relatives have turned largely to social media, and to Facebook in particular, to enlist the help of their community. Thousands of people have joined forces on these pages to drop tips and possible leads on the missing and to provide support to the families.

Norton was on his way home from Joplin High School’s graduation ceremony with his father, Mark Norton. The two had stayed a few minutes after the ceremony to take pictures, while the rest of the family went straight home, Presslor said.

But the two never made it to their house. When the storm hit his Hummer H3, Will Norton was sucked out of the vehicle through the sunroof. Mark Norton was found at Freeman Hospital West and is still receiving treatment there, Presslor said.

About 28,000 people have since supported the “Help Find Will Norton” page on Facebook. Recent posts by Presslor reveal the frustration of a family that cannot find a child. A post on Wednesday afternoon listed the hospitals that already have been checked for the teen. Another post said the family was attempting to track his cellphone in hopes of determining his location.

Steve Lea, a friend of the Norton family, said rescue workers on Wednesday were searching some small ponds along Schifferdecker Avenue, across the street from where the tornado wrecked the Nortons’ vehicle. He said Will Norton and his father had been just seconds from pulling into their driveway.

“Five seconds would have made so much of a difference,” he said. “Maybe even three seconds. Just incredible. Very devastating.”

Another Facebook page, “Help Find Lantz Hare,” has drawn more than 5,300 followers in support of a 16-year-old who was last seen in front of the Dillons supermarket on 20th Street, which was leveled.

“He pulled into the Dillons parking lot because he couldn’t see, and that’s the last we know,” said his mother, Michelle Hare.

Hare’s vehicle was found 300 feet away. A friend who was a passenger in the vehicle was found alive and is being treated at a hospital. Hare’s family members note that they have checked “every hospital and possible lead” and are feeling the frustration of not being able to locate him.

“He was an amazing young man,” Michelle Hare said, breaking into tears during a telephone interview Wednesday. “It’s just been a complete nightmare.”

Skyularstet Logsdon, a wide-eyed 16-month-old boy, also vanished Sunday. He and his mother, C.J. Tate, were dropped off shortly before the tornado struck at 26th Street and Maiden Lane, where Skyular’s father, Cord Logsdon, lives.

The force of the tornado carried C.J. Tate about 17 blocks from the home — she was found at 24th and Main streets. She later said she never let go of her son, said Tsviastet Tate, C.J. Tate’s sister and Skyular’s aunt.

A Facebook page titled “Bring Skyular Logsdon Home” was created. Calls from people offering to help in the search overwhelmed the family.

C.J. Tate told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that the toddler’s body had been identified by a family member at the Joplin morgue set up for tornado victims. Condolences were being offered up on the Facebook page. Cord Logsdon has been released from the hospital; C.J. Tate is still being treated.

STAFF WRITER Josh Letner contributed to this report.

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