LAFAYETTE, La. -- Family and friends of Mickey Shunick, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette anthropology student who has been missing since May 19, are holding out hope that Shunick will be returned to them safely, despite events Wednesday night that threatened to break that confidence.

Lafayette Police searched for a second time the Whiskey Bay area late Wednesday night and into early Thursday morning after sonar equipment discovered what may have been potential evidence in the case.

Christina Silveretti, a public spokesperson for the family, says they were understandably nervous, as would any family in that situation, she says. When searchers came up with nothing of significance, though, Silveretti says the family breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Silveretti says they believe Shunick is still alive and are remaining confident that she will be returned to them safely.

Silveretti also confirmed the Shunick family has hired a private investigator. Despite media reports Wednesday afternoon that the family had just hired John Abdella, though, Silveretti says he has been employed by the family since the second day of Shunick's disappearance.

Abdella is working in conjunction with the Lafayette Police Department, Silveretti says.

If you have any information relating to the Shunick case, you're asked to call the Lafayette Police Department tips line at (337) 291-8633 and Abdella at (337) 235-0270.