Authorities have suspended an all-out search Wednesday evening for KEYT News anchor Paula Lopez, who was reported missing earlier in the day, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
After an unsuccessful, exhaustive search, sheriff’s detectives have handed the case over to investigators, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.
No foul play is suspected, she said, but Lopez’s family is concerned about her welfare.
“We have been in touch with her family and know they, as well as local authorities, are doing everything possible to find her safe and sound,” KEYT general manager Mark Danielson wrote in an email to Noozhawk on Wednesday afternoon.
Lopez, who co-anchors the 11 p.m. news for the Central Coast’s ABC affiliate station, was reported missing at about 10 a.m. Wednesday by concerned family members, Hoover said.
Lopez was last seen at her home, near Cathedral Oaks and North San Marcos roads in Goleta, and her family last talked to her at 9:30 a.m., Hoover said.
She has not been seen or heard from since.
Lopez is married to Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa, who could not be reached for comment.
Sheriff’s deputies, two K-9 units, and a sheriff’s Air Support Unit helicopter responded to the call, and teams were still searching early Wednesday evening near Lopez’s home, Hoover said. The search was suspended after 5 p.m.
“Ms. Lopez is a well-known and familiar face in the Santa Barbara community,” Hoover said.
Authorities are asking anyone with information about her whereabouts to call the sheriff’s Detectives Bureau at 805.681.4150.
Lopez, 48, is Hispanic and is approximately 5-foot-2. She was last seen wearing a black sweat suit and tennis shoes.
“It is clearly a difficult time for her family and our own family at KEYT,” Danielson said in his message. “All of us at KEYT stand ready to assist in any way we can. For now, on behalf of KEYT and NPG of California, our thoughts and prayers are extended to Paula as well as her family and those searching to find her. We hope for her safe and speedy return.”
Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.