Del. mom contacts missing daughter in Japan

Karen Nagyiski finally heard the words she was aching to hear. The Delawarean’s daughter, Jessica Besecker, living in Japan and unaccounted for since last week’s earthquake and tsunami, had been located and was fine.

After a week of growing fears for her daughter’s safety, one phone call made everything right again.

“I said, ‘Jessica, my God,'” Nagyiski said. “It was just amazing to hear her voice and that she was safe, she was OK.”

The conversation went on for an hour and a half.

Besecker, 24, has spent two and a half years in the coastal town of Kesennuma where she is an English teacher in the Japan Exchange and Teaching program. The school where Besecker works is located on higher ground and since the disaster has been turned into a shelter. Besecker was in the school last Friday when the earthquake and tsunami struck, and she was there last night when her family contacted her.

“She kept getting choked up when she was talking about people that had lost their homes,” Nagyiski said. “And she was still concerned about some of her friends that she hasn’t heard from.”

Nagyiski knows all about that concern. 

Before last night’s phone call, the last communication Nagyiski received from her daughter was a Facebook update last Friday, just after the earthquake but before the tsunami. She had spent nearly every waking moment since getting word out to the local and national news media; and making internet connections with anyone in Japan who could help locate her daughter.

Nagyiski says it was through those endless efforts that word finally trickled down to one of Besecker’s supervisors who went to the school and confirmed that she was safe. With land line phone service restored, Nagyiski was able to call the school.

“We told her she was a very hard person to get a hold of,” she said.

The two talked at length about the disaster. Of the earthquake, Besecker told her mother it “kept going and going.”

Besecker said within 10-15 minutes after the earthquake the tsunami alarms sounded. Within an hour, she said, the massive wave came ashore.

“She said she could see it because of the elevation she was at,” Nagyiski said. “She could look down and actually see the tsunami wave rolling in. She said it was just like a big white line just rolling in.”

Nagyiski says her daughter will still likely stay in Japan until her work contract runs out in August.

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