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Missing Lanier Christian student found safe
Maria Leggiero
Maria Leggiero

A Lanier Christian Academy student who had been missing since Tuesday afternoon has been found safe.

Al Gainey, president of the school, confirmed early Wednesday afternoon that Maria Leggiero has been found and was on her way home.

“It’s been a rough 18 hours, but God’s good. We got her back,” Gainey said.

The school had canceled classes Wednesday at its upper school as more than 200 parents, students and friends joined law enforcement searching for the eighth-grade student who was  reported missing Tuesday night.

Leggiero was reported missing at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday from the Chateau Elan community, according to Braselton Assistant Police Chief Lou Solis. He said she was last seen by her mom around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

In addition to the Lanier students and Braselton Police, Solis said his office received assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Barrow County and Gwinnett County law enforcement.

Gainey said he learned that Leggiero was missing about 9 p.m. Tuesday. Parents and students were made aware that the teen was missing through text messages and social media. He said some parents from the elementary school volunteered to help with the search.

“Of course, the high school students showed up even though we canceled and they’re out looking, too, in teams,” Gainey said. “Many, many of their parents have showed up with them. We’ve got dads taking off work (Wednesday); we’ve got moms, who generally work, taking the day off.”

Gainey said he is not surprised at the response of the school community.

“In a Christian school like we have here, it is a unified family,” he said. “When something happens to one, it’s happening to all. We just believe from a biblical perspective, we need to help find this girl and this is part of the servant’s heart that our families have.”