Updated Tuesday, Jan. 10
When a gunman opened fire inside a baggage claim terminal at the Fort Lauderdale airport last week, chaos erupted. Kim Lariviere and her husband ducked under chairs, using their bodies to shield their two young daughters. Along with thousands of other passengers, the Larivieres, who were visiting from Canada, were evacuated. Later, they were given the all clear, and they returned to the scene.
Belongings were scattered everywhere. But right where they left him was Rufus, her 10-year-old daughter Courtney’s chocolate brown teddy bear—the one her grandfather gave her before he died—wearing his same old red sweatshirt. Lariviere took a picture to document the aftermath of the shooting that ended in the death of five innocent people. In the image, Rufus sits patiently waiting among the family’s possessions at Gate 8.
After reports of more gunfire that turned out to be a false alarm, the family fled again, and this time they weren’t able to come back. Again Rufus was left waiting at Gate 8.
Rufus and the rest of the family's belongings are among 23,000 items that the airport is trying to reunite with their owners. Now Lariviere, a teacher, is on a mission to reunite Courtney with Rufus.
“Rufus has never been apart from my daughter and unfortunately she wasn’t able to grab him as we ran out. She hasn’t slept in three nights. She has barely eaten,” Lariviere told the Miami Herald. “And I think he’s probably the most important thing we need back right now.”
Update: Courtney and Rufus have been reunited, the Miami Herald reports.
The Herald reports that in the coming days, the airport expects to launch a website with images of the unclaimed items. Passengers who file a claim for a lost item will be given a password that will grant them access to the website. Until then, passengers are asked to call (866) 435-9355 to file a claim for a missing item.
Lariviere said she’s been calling the number nonstop with no luck. She’s also been back to the terminal hoping to find Rufus. Desperate, she left a message on a piece of paper with her phone number. “Looking for Rufus red hooded Teddy bear,” she wrote. No one has called.
The airport told the Herald that passengers will be notified when their items are identified. In the meantime, have you seen Rufus? There’s a little girl looking for him.