Traffic cam footage of Carlee Russell’s car on I-459 investigated as search continues

Update: Carlee Russell returned home safe on July 15.

The search for Carlee Russell continues, and Hoover police said they are reviewing traffic footage for any clues about her disappearance nearly 48 hours ago.

The video comes from Traffic Cam Archive, an online company that captures, catalogs, archives and sells traffic camera footage.

The footage shows what police confirm is Russell’s red Mercedes driving slowly on the shoulder lane of Interstate 459 in Hoover Thursday night with her flashers on.

Police and family members previously said Russell, a 25-year-old nursing student, was on her way home from work and picking up dinner at the Colonnade when she spotted a young child on the interstate and was stopping to see if she could help.

Russell was on the phone with her brother’s girlfriend when the girlfriend reported hearing Russell scream. Next, the girlfriend only heard the noise of interstate traffic.

Russell has not been heard from, or seen, since then.

“We have looked at the video,’’ Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis said Saturday. “It’s not the greatest.”

The chief said they are working to get the video enhanced for more clues into Russell’s disappearance.

“It proves that Carlee’s car was there, and we know that when the officers responded after the 911 call that she was not,’’ Derzis said.

“She remains missing and our top priority,’’ he said. “Every resource we have is being used today.”

“We’re working closely with the family making sure they know exactly what we’re doing,’’ Derzis said. “They’re fielding a lot of leads themselves and they’re forwarding those leads to us.”

The reward for information leading to Russell’s safe return now stands at $58,260.95, Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama said Saturday night.

The agency has a link on its Facebook page for anyone interested in donating.

Police on Saturday released a new photo of Russell that they said may more accurately depict her current appearance.

“Since our news conference yesterday we have followed up on many leads and are still employing all the resources of the Hoover Police Department toward locating Carlee,’’ Lt. Daniel Lowe said in a press release.

“We remain very grateful for the outpouring of support from the Hoover community and the numerous local, state, and federal agencies who have provided countless hours of assistance,’’ Lowe said. “We continue to ask everyone in the Hoover community and beyond to keep the Russell family in their thoughts and prayers.”

Thursday night, Russell stopped by Taziki’s at the Colonnade at 9 p.m. to pick up food for herself and her mother.

The search began when Hoover 911 at 9:34 p.m. received a call from Russell, said Lt. Daniel Lowe.

Russell told the dispatcher that she was near mile marker 11 when she saw a toddler walking alone on the side of I-459 between the flyover to the Galleria and Highway 150.

After calling 911, Russell stopped to check on the child and called a family member, Lowe said. The family member lost contact with her, but the line remained open.

Officers located Russell’s Mercedes, still running but vacant. Some of her belongings nearby. They were unable to find her or a child in the area.

Hoover police have not received any other calls of someone missing a small child.

At 9:36 p.m., her mother, Talitha Russell, said her daughter was on the phone with her brother’s girlfriend. Carlee pulled over after saying she saw a child that appeared to be 3 or 4 years old.

“She probably let her guard down thinking 911 would be there in a second‚” Talitha Russell said.

“My son’s girlfriend heard her asking the child, ‘Are you OK? She never heard the child say anything but then she heard our daughter scream,’’ Talitha Russell said. “All you hear on her phone is background noise from the interstate.”

“Her car door was open,” Talitha said. “They found her phone on the ground, along with her wig and her hat…Her purse was still in the car. Her Apple watch was in her purse and her Air Pods as well.”

Talitha Russell said a tip was called in from a trucker.

“He saw a gray car with a tall brown skinned man with khaki shorts on leaning over in the car,’’ Talitha Russell said.

“The police did find some tire tracks in the grass,’’ she said. “They said because it was not a muddy area, they were not able to determine what type of vehicle it could have been.”

Authorities are not committing to any one theory in Russell’s disappearance, police said at a Friday afternoon press conference.

“We currently are investigating every possibility,’’ Lowe said. “We’re certainly leaving nothing off the table.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Brad Fountain at 205-444-7562, Sgt. Drew Mims at 205-739-7274, or Crimestoppers of Metro Alabama at 205-254-7777.

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