Pixel Tracker

Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 5:37 am | Fair 46º


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)

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >