Family, friends say they remain optimistic in finding missing UI student

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BROOKLYN, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - A search is underway for missing University of Iowa student.

20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts disappeared Wednesday night while she was dog sitting. She was last seen wearing jogging clothes; gym shorts, a sports bra and tennis shoes.

Friends, family and members of the Brooklyn community all came out in full force to look for Mollie.

"We just really hope we can get her found and back to the people that love her," said Madison Winegarden.

Tibbetts someone many volunteers and family alike describe as friendly and energetic.

"She's about to start her sophomore year about five-foot-two with brown hair and brown eyes. She has a beautiful smile and is great with kids," said Tibbett's aunt, Kim Calderwood.

Cathryn Metz and her other friends said they've known Mollie since high school.

"It's really scary," said Winegarden. "Now, I wouldn't want to go out by myself really late. I'm just hoping we find her. "

Tibbett's disappearance is leaving many on edge. Friends said it's very unlike her to disappear.

"I'm feeling kind of scared and nervous and anxious hoping we can find her today," said Cathryn Metz.

"You know, you wouldn't think something like this would happen in the small town of Brooklyn," said Winegarden.

Authorities say they've looked all over town. Crews focused the majority of Friday's efforts on the fields between her house and where she was staying when she disappeared. Family said Tibbetts spent Wednesday night dog-sitting at a friend's house.

The fields were a typical trail for the avid jogger. Early in the day crews tried searching with helicopters but weather wasn't in their favor.

"Well, because of the low cloud covers we were not able to get the aircraft up with the technology that we need," said Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Ben Anderson.

But as soon as the sun did come out late in the afternoon, officials sent volunteers home to regroup and retry aerials.

"We urge anyone who has information to contact the Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office," said Anderson.

Now, everyone is left with unanswered questions and desperate to bring the girl home.

"She did whatever she could to help anybody so we're trying to help her and her family today just trying to find her," said Metz.

"We just want our Mollie back," said Calderwood.

The sheriff's office said they don't have any public search crews scheduled for Saturday but will post on social media if they do set one up in the future.