Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 5:08 am | Fair 45º

 
 
 
 

Cody West’s Body, Car Found in Culvert in Goleta

Week-long search for missing 22-year-old comes to tragic end with discovery

A car belonging to missing Goleta man Cody West was found Friday in a culvert near Los Carneros Road. A body found underneath has been confirmed to be West’s.
A car belonging to missing Goleta man Cody West was found Friday in a culvert near Los Carneros Road. A body found underneath has been confirmed to be West’s. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

Cody West's father, David West, center, is overcome Friday at the scene where his son's body was found after a week-long search. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Officials confirmed Friday afternoon that a body found earlier in the day in a cement culvert in Goleta was that of Cody West, who had been missing since last weekend and the subject on an intensive search.

Authorities, family members and volunteers had spent the week combing the area for the 22-year-old Goleta man, who was last seen early Sunday morning leaving a party on Avenida Gorrion in the Lake Los Carneros area of Goleta.

A volunteer who had joined the search found the remains pinned underneath West's vehicle at about 9 a.m. Friday, said Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

She confirmed Friday afternoon the the body was West's.

Hoover had confirmed that the car was West's earlier in the day.

Emergency crews dispatched to the scene found West's silver Audi A4 Quatro sedan upright in the cement culvert north of Highway 101 and east of Los Carneros Road, said Capt. Dave Zaniboni of the county Fire Department.

The body was pinned underneath the rear end of the car, which showed some signs of damage.

The remains were lifted out of the culvert by firefighters at about 12:50 p.m., as friends and family watched nearby.

A body was found Friday underneath a car belonging to Cody West, 22, above, who disappeared early Sunday. Authorities confirmed Friday afternoon that it was West's, but have not disclosed a probable cause of death. (Contributed photo)

A message on the Bring Back Cody Facebook page set up by West's family also confirmed the death:

"Sadly, despite all of our tireless efforts, our dearest Cody has passed away. Our hearts our broken and we will be grieving this terrible loss for the rest of our lives.

"We will be setting up a new Facebook page in his memory and will post more information on how you can help in the coming days."

No probable cause of death had been determined, Hoover said.

The culvert is behind the Los Carneros Business Park and near the Santa Barbara office of the California Highway Patrol on the south side of Calle Real, but is not easily visible.

The Sheriff's Department had roped off the area, and called in its Major Accident Response Team, Hoover said.

"They were trying to figure out exactly what happened," she said.

No foul play is suspected, Hoover said, and investigators were treating the incident as a vehicle accident.

She added that it is unclear how the car ended up in the culvert, or how the body wound up under the car.

Los Carneros Road was shut down from Highway 101 to Calle Real for several hours before being reopened.

About a half dozen of West's friends gathered at the scene, and watched as investigators walked down to the culvert.

As firefighters lifted out a black body bag just yards away, many of West's friends began crying and hugging each other.

Friend Paul Ortega said that the group had been searching for days in the area, but had not found any sign of West.

"It's surreal," Ortega said, shaking. "I don't know what to think or how to process it."

Ortega said that the group had tried to look near the location where West's phone had been located.

"We drove by here many times," he noted.

Another friend, John Jimenez, had also been part of the search party, which had gone from Old San Marcos Road to Carpinteria looking for West.

"We looked for him all week," Jimenez said.

"He was energetic, always positive. The life of the party," Jimenez said of West. "Nobody had anything bad to say about him."

Jimenez said that the Facebook page organized for West had showed the community was ready to help in any way. 

A family member told Noozhawk Thursday afternoon that West's cell phone was pinged and showed it was in the area near the lake in the early morning hours on Monday, roughly a day after he disappeared.

Since then, the phone has either been turned off or gone dead, said Owen Grohman, West's brother-in-law.

The Sheriff's Department had been assisting the family in the search.

"For the past three days, a Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit helicopter has conducted air surveillance to search for his vehicle," said sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

Noozhawk Staff Writer Lara Cooper reported from the scene.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Santa Barbara County firefighters and sheriff's deputies carry the remains of Cody West of Goleta, whose body was found Friday in a culvert near Los Carneros Road after a week-long search. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

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