Relatives of a missing Staten Island woman who disappeared while on vacation in Turkey are heading to Istanbul to look for her, her family said Sunday.
Sarai Sierra's family was last in touch with her on Jan. 21, the day she was supposed to start her journey home. The 33-year-old mother of two had been in Turkey on her own since Jan. 7.
Her brother, David Jimenez, and Sierra's husband, Steven Sierra, were planning to leave for Turkey on Sunday night. Jimenez said they had no return date planned.
"I don't want to come home without my sister," he said. "It's been really tough. We're holding together as a family."
Sierra had planned to head to the Galata Bridge, a well-known tourist destination that spans the Golden Horn waterway, to take some photographs, said her mother, Betzaida Jimenez. Sierra was then supposed to begin traveling home and was scheduled to arrive in New York City on Tuesday afternoon.
Sierra's father went to pick her up at the airport and "waited there for hours" with no sign of his daughter, Jimenez said.
Sierra was supposed to go on the trip with a friend but ended up going by herself when the friend couldn't make it. She was looking forward to exploring her hobby of photography, her family said. It was her first trip outside the U.S.
"When you're married as long as we've been you want to support your spouse," Sierra's husband Steven said.
The trip had passed smoothly with Sierra in regular contact with her family and friends through text messaging and phone calls.
"She would always call and let us know, 'This is what I did today,'" Sierra's mother said.
When she didn't show up at the airport, her husband said he called the hostel where she had been staying. The owner checked her room and saw that her passport, electronics chargers and other items were still there.
The family has been in touch with the FBI and the U.S. Embassy in Turkey in their efforts to find her.
U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm said Saturday his office is working with officials in the U.S. and Istanbul to locate Sierra and bring her home safely.
Sierra's husband said he hoped his wife would be back home soon and that life could return to normal for their family.
"You just want it to end," he said. "You just want it to be over with so you can go about your life and enjoy your family and be happy again."