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KEYT Anchor Paula Lopez Arrested on Public-Intoxication Charge

Journalist taken into custody near her home, five months after brief disappearance set off intensive search

Paula Lopez, longtime anchorwoman at KEYT News in Santa Barbara, is facing public-intoxication charges after being arrested Monday afternoon near her home, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Paula Lopez
Paula Lopez in a July 29, 2013, booking photo from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Lopez, 48, "was contacted by sheriff's deputies on North San Marcos Road at Via Piccoli in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County" at about 4:30 p.m. Monday, sheriff's Cmdr. Sol Linver said.

She was taken into custody, and later released with a citation to appear in court, Linver said, adding that the case will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office for review.

"There will be no additional information released at this time," Linver said.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley said Wednesday that her office had not yet received the case.

Mark Danielson, KEYT general manager, issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“I am aware of the recent developments with Paula Lopez but I am unable to comment on any employee's health or personnel issues. I will continue to monitor the developments closely, but as I am sure you can understand, I am unable to release any further statements concerning Paula.” 

Lopez issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon saying her arrest and other recent odd behavior were related to an ongoing battle with alcoholism.

Click here to read Lopez's statement.

The misdemeanor charge comes several months after an unusual Feb. 27 incident in which Lopez was reported missing by family members.

She was safely reunited with her family later that day after an intense search near her foothills home west of Santa Barbara.

Family members called the sheriff’s public safety dispatch around 5:30 p.m. that day to report that she was home safe, and responding deputies confirmed she was no longer missing, sheriff's officials said at the time.

Lopez co-anchors the 11 p.m. news for the Central Coast’s ABC affiliate station, but has been seen on the air inconsistently in the intervening months.

She is married to Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa and they have three children together.

In a subsequent interview with Noozhawk, Lopez blamed her disappearance on a combination of working too much while neglecting medical issues — including pneumonia and dehydration.

That combination, she said, caused the deterioration of her health.

Lopez said she had been out sick from work with pneumonia the week before her disappearance.

She confirmed information released by her family, explaining that medical issues prevented her from being able to speak during the disappearance.

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.

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