The yellow ribbons still circle trees and light posts along leafy Madison Street, but the hope they symbolize is gone. The families of two 19-year-olds missing in Nepal say they now believe the longtime friends died in the devastating April 25 earthquake.
“There are no words to describe the depths of our sorrow and loss,” they wrote on the same social media site they tapped to raise money for a private search for the teenagers. “We believe that our girls, Bailey Sage Meola, and Sydney Jo Schumacher, perished during the earthquake and catastrophic landslide in the Langtang region of Nepal.”
The recent graduates of Garfield High School left their hometown of Seattle in February for separate gap-year journeys and met up in Thailand on April 12. Together they headed to Katmandu and boarded a bus to the Langtang Valley for a long-planned trek.
The last time their families heard from them was April 19.
Just days after the 7.8 earthquake hit, killing more than 8,000, the families turned to the crowd-funding site IndieGoGo with a goal of raising $500 to help send Schumacher’s brothers to Nepal to scour the trail the girls planned to take.
“This fund is intended to raise money to assist in locating and extracting Sydney & Bailey from the high altitude remote area of the Himalayas where we believe they are trapped with many others,” they wrote at the time.
The families raised more than $51,000. Will and Paul Schumacher left for the Langtang Valley less than a week after the quake. On May 8, hundreds gathered on the shores of Lake Washington for a candlelight vigil, praying for the girls’ safety.
The Schumacher brothers have since returned. And on Thursday, the families made their dire announcement.
“When Sydney’s brothers, Will and Paul, searched the entirety of the trek, and saw the immense and unfathomable destruction and devastation, it was clear that there was no chance our girls had survived,” they wrote.
“Although our strong desire has been to hear final confirmation from the US Embassy, and to receive our girls’ remains, we haven’t, and may never,” they said. “We have been profoundly moved by the support and love we have received from near and from far, far away.”
The money will be donated “to aid the people & economy of the Langtang Valley region in the names of our beautiful daughters,” they said.
Thank you, they said.
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