ROCHESTER, NY (WMBF) - She vanished without a trace more than a year ago, and now one New York high school will be honoring the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel with an honorary diploma.
Drexel was to graduate alongside her friends and classmates from Gates Chili High School on June 23, but instead of accepting an hard-earned diploma herself, the teen's family will be doing it for her.
"[The school] called last week to inform me that [it] would honor my daughter with an honorary diploma," Dawn Drexel, the teen's mother, said. "This entire ordeal is so real. I miss my daughter and ache for her to come home."
The teen, who was 17 years old at the time of her disappearance, was last seen in the area of 11th Avenue South and 20th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach. Drexel was in the Grand Strand against the will of her mother.
Contact was lost between Drexel and her family in New York on April 25, 2009, the same night authorities said she disappeared. The last signal ping from her cell phone came the next night near the South Santee River.
Since Drexel's disappearance, several search efforts for the teen have been executed from Horry County to Charleston County. Despite the efforts fronted by area police and the CUE Center for Missing Persons, each search effort has fallen short.