Explanation of Why Santa Barbara TV Anchor Went Missing for Eight Hours on Wednesday Raises More Questions Than Answers Santa Barbara Independent
"[Santa Barbara, Calif., TV station] KEYT anchorwoman Paula Lopez, 48, showed up at her home about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday evening under circumstances nearly as mysterious as those under which she disappeared," reports the Santa Barbara Independent.
Lopez' family issued a statement to KEYT, the article adds, that said, "As a family we were very alarmed because Paula was experiencing a medical condition that caused her to be unable to communicate with us. She is now receiving the appropriate medical care and we hope and expect that her treatment will enable her to recover quickly."
The family has not disclosed the nature of Lopez' medical condition.
The article notes that "KEYT and the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department released statements yesterday that Lopez had been reported missing at 10 a.m. after having spoken to family members half an hour earlier. The nature of the communication --and the identity of the parties involved -- were not disclosed, but the contents apparently were sufficiently dire for the Sheriff's Department to dispatch a helicopter and two K-9 units to track her down. Although the helicopter, in the air for 90 minutes, was seen by nearly everyone on the South Coast as it swept overhead, it apparently did not spot Lopez."
The story continues, "Lopez, a ninth generation Santa Barbaran and a mainstay of the local media world, has let it be known that her days at KEYT -- which was recently acquired by new owners -- are numbered. Lopez is also married to Judge Frank Ochoa -- now a leading contender to be appointed to the Court of Appeal -- who reportedly left the bench yesterday at 11 a.m." Lopez anchors the 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on the station.
The article adds, "Sheriff's spokesperson Kelly Hoover denied that Lopez and Ochoa were afforded any special considerations because of their status. She said that such searches are called for when authorities have reason to believe the missing person is at risk. In this case, Hoover said the department had reason to be concerned that Lopez might need medical attention."
Furthermore, according to the article, Hoover said "the [Sheriff's] Department was notified by the family that Lopez had returned and that they dispatched deputies to the scene to confirm. When asked whether the deputies determined whether Lopez did or did not need medical attention, Hoover said she was not at liberty to answer any question relating to medical conditions."