Missing KEYT News anchor Paula Lopez was safely reunited with her family late Wednesday afternoon after an intense search near her foothills home west of Santa Barbara, authorities confirmed Wednesday night.
Lopez, 48, was reported missing around 10 a.m. Wednesday, and her family and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department personnel launched an exhaustive search of the neighborhood near Cathedral Oaks and North San Marcos roads.
Family members called the sheriff’s public safety dispatch around 5:30 p.m. to report that she was home safe, and responding deputies confirmed she was no longer missing, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.
“We are not commenting on the reasons surrounding why Ms. Lopez went missing due to the fact it is a private family matter,” she said.
Just after 5 p.m., Hoover announced that the search had been suspended. With a couple of hours of daylight left, no other details were released at the time.
“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 earlier 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, said Hoover, who added that foul play was not suspected.
Her husband, Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa, could not be reached for comment.
Sheriff’s deputies, two K-9 units, a sheriff’s Air Support Unit helicopter and the sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team were deployed in the search.
“It is clearly a difficult time for her family and our own family at KEYT,” Danielson said in his email. “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.