Update: Hannah Upp has been found. Literally. According to the New York Times, deckhands on a Staten Island ferry boat pulled Hannah Upp out of the New York Harbor shortly before noon. Upp was taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where she is reportedly listed in stable condition.
It was a close call. According to a spokesman for the transportation department quoted in the Times article, the 23-year-old schoolteacher was "almost completely incapacitated" and "not responsive" when they pulled her out of the water.
About 4:00pm, Hannah's brother Daniel "Wally" Upp, updated the "We're not Giving Upp (on Hannah)" Facebook group--now up to over 3,100 members--with the message, "At long last, we are able to confirm that Hannah has been found and is safe!"
He discourages readers from believing initial media reports about the rescue.
"The media has already heard and some have immediately taken the most sensationalist route possible, but please don't put much credit in what they are saying/guessing/making up," wrote Wally Upp.
Multiple New York media outlets have quoted investigators and police, stating the belief that Upp jumped into New York Harbor in an apparent suicide attempt.
For family and friends of Hannah Upp, the 23-year-old New York City schoolteacher who's been missing nearly two weeks, the question has been a straight javelin to the heart.
Upp, a Bryn Mawr College grad, class of '07, was last seen in her apartment in the Hamilton Terrance area of East Harlem around 2:30pm on Aug. 29, before vanishing without a trace. It was as if the cracks in the city's busy streets swallowed her whole.
Family and friends mobilized quickly. The tight-knit Bryn Mawr alum, who were g-chatting about Upp's disappearance by Monday, set up blogs and drilled through social networks like MySpace and Facebook, scattering Upp's picture and information across the country within hours.
Initial postings yielded few details: Upp, who had plans to visit and stay with her mother for the weekend, had been expected to return to work on Tuesday, Sept. 2 to begin her second year teaching Spanish at Thurgood Marshall Academy for Social Change, a public charter middle school based in Harlem. (Upp was a fellow in New York Teaching Fellows.)
But Upp never made it to her mother's house.
When she hadn't returned to her apartment by Sunday evening, her roommates called her cell phone but it went straight to voicemail. Monday evening, frantic, they went into her bedroom and discovered all her keys, phone, purse, wallet, subway card and her passport, her only ID.
The slow-curdling, anxiety hit boiling point. What had happened to Hannah Emily Upp?
By all accounts, Upp is an optimistic soul, fun, spunky, and prone to throw spontaneous dance parties. "People love to make saints of people when tragedies strike, but there is no exaggeration here," says Kaitlin Menza, who shared a dorm hall with Upp at Bryn Mawr. "She is one of those classic Bryn Mawr girls--absolutely convinced that she is going to change the world. She's one of the good ones, and it is stuff like this that makes people lose their faith in the world."
Though TV news coverage by the big three networks was minimal (only NBC ran the story on Sept. 5), by the weekend most people who go online daily, thanks to grassroots online campaigns, had seen the photo of a pretty, apple-cheeked smiling girl with a white rose tucked behind her ear.
Information on Upp was posted to websites of magazines, newspapers and high-traffic blogs, like New York magazine and the Gawker media network.
Some questioned why the mainstream news media wasn't giving the story play. On the surface, Upp's disappearance had all the race and class dynamics--and drama--that drives a story to the top of a news cycle: a bright (white) young attractive altruistic professional, the daughter of conservative religious clergy, disappears while teaching at an underserved school in Harlem.
But though the story didn't catch fire with the national media, news and pleas for information sprawled across the Internet at startling speed. By Tuesday morning, the Facebook group "We're not giving Upp (on Hannah)" had swelled to almost 3,000 members, and by this morning there were more than 17,000 Google hits for "Hannah Upp."
Though the search continues to grow, the big question--What happened to Hannah Upp?--has begun to crack and splinter as evidence mounts that she may not have been abducted after all.
On Sunday Sept. 7, the New York Post confirmed that Upp had gone "AWOL" for three days last year and had received a "slap on the wrist" from the principal of the school for not showing up. On Monday, Sept. 8, Upp was sighted in the Apple store on Fifth Ave. near Central Park. Her family reviewed the videotape and confirmed it was her.
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