CHICAGO – Police divers searched the Des Plaines River on Wednesday for a missing woman who had planned to place a damaged statue of a Hindu deity in the water when she disappeared two days earlier.
The statue of the deity Ganesh, revered as the god of good fortune and wisdom, was broken in the mail when it arrived in a package sent by relatives, said Anu Solanki's husband, Dignesh.
A religious leader told them it should be wrapped in a red cloth and placed in a lake or a river to prevent bad luck, Solanki said Wednesday morning during a cell phone interview as he watched the divers searching the river.
Authorities fear 24-year-old Anu Solanki may have slipped underwater while placing the statue in the current. Divers were searching the river Wednesday near where her car was found in a forest preserve in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling.
"I'm not going to give up hope," Solanki said, adding that a phone call his wife made Monday from her cell phone suggests she may be alive.
He said his wife called a friend Monday afternoon and said four men were following her, then called back saying they weren't following her anymore.
He said she told him she had planned to place the statue in the river after she got off work on Monday.
"She said, 'I know where to go.' That's the spot my friend found her car," Solanki said.
Her Honda Civic was found Monday afternoon in the forest preserve. A family friend said the car was unlocked and Solanki's purse and laptop were missing.
The Solankis were born in India's Gujarat state. They now live near Des Plaines and were married Oct 6, 2006. A second Hindu wedding was held on May 6 in New Jersey, and the Ganesh statue played a role in the ceremony, Solanki said.
Cook County Forest Preserve Police spokesman Steve Taylor said a sheriff's department helicopter was helping with the search.