ST. THOMAS — Friends of St. Thomas Montessori teacher Hannah Upp are asking the community’s help in locating her, after she went missing some time Friday in the area of Sapphire Beach.
Friend and fellow teacher Maggie Guzman said Upp, 32, was last seen Thursday morning leaving her home. On Friday, she said a construction crew at Sapphire Beach found her car keys, clothing, and sandals by the beach bar. Her car was also located at Sapphire with her purse, phone, wallet, and ID inside the vehicle.
Monday morning Guzman and others organized a search party for Upp in the area, and are desperate to find her before Hurricane Maria hits.
“We had Coast Guard out looking for her, police were notified but they stopped the active search because of this incoming storm,” Guzman said.
Twice before, Upp has disappeared suddenly, and it’s believed she may suffer from an extremely rare form of amnesia known as dissociative fugue. Individuals in such a fugue state are able to perform the normal functions of life, but are unable to remember any personal details and may be unsure of who they are. Sufferers also frequently travel with no clear destination.
“We have reason to believe that she has entered a dissociative fugue state, yes,” Guzman said Monday. “She may be high-functioning, and if she’s found, she should immediately be brought to a hospital or the police should be called because she may resist.”
In 2008, Upp was found by a ferry crew floating face-down in the Hudson River in New York City after having gone missing for three weeks. She told the New York Times at the time that she had no memory of the incident, and it felt like only 10 minutes had passed since she entered the fugue state.
Upp went missing again in 2013 in Maryland, and was found two days later after friends launched a search for her.
Experts believe that stress can trigger fugue states, but much about the condition remains unknown.
Upp is described as 5-feet, seven-inches tall with brown eyes and short, light brown hair. She may be wearing a bathing suit or shorts and a sports bra.
Anyone who has seen Upp or has information about her location is asked to report it immediately to 911, or call Maggie Guzman at 340-474-9774.