A-State grateful for help, prayers to find missing students

Arkansas State on Rescue

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Three Arkansas State University students who went missing Wednesday during a spelunking trip are now safe.

Casey Sherwood, Daiki Itoh and Daisuke Takagi were exploring Blowing Cave in Independence County Wednesday when they became lost in the cave.

Sherwood's wife, Katherine, notified Arkansas State University Thursday morning that the three were missing.

"When the news came in, our acting Chancellor Lynita Cooksey convened our executive counsel. They discussed the situation and one of the things that was quickly decided was that Arkansas State needed to have some people there, just as a resource in case they were needed," Bill Smith said.

Smith, executive director of Marketing and Communications for Arkansas State, said University Police Chief Randy Martin, Emergency Coordinator John Carvell, and Vice-President for University Relations Arkansas State University System Shane Broadway were in Independence County.

Smith said Itoh and Takagi came to Arkansas State in May.

"They participated in our English as a Second Language program as many of our international students do," Smith said. "They are enrolled to be first-year students this fall."

Smith explained that international students often use semester breaks as a chance to explore America.

"Unlike many of our domestic students, they can't simply go home for a few days during a break, so they'll do things like take side trips to the beautiful nature options here in Arkansas or they'll travel to Chicago on the train or they'll go to New Orleans," Smith said. "So this is very common for international students, maybe not this trip but this is how they often spend their time during breaks."

Smith said they are simply grateful the three students were found alive, and safe.

"This is a town that really is warm and inviting, and our students know that," Smith said. "It's one of the reasons we have a great following among our global students. We've been hearing from Japan all day long, and they've been very thankful for the support their students have found here at Arkansas State."

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