Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 4:32 am | Fair 52º


Letter to the Editor: Search for Isaiah Sanchez Hindered by Lack of Gear

Dear Santa Barbara County officials,

On behalf of Isaiah Sanchez’s family, we want to thank all who have thus far through many means lent and offered support to the family during this time of loss, grieving and turmoil.

Although Isaiah lived in El Rio, and his mother’s current residence is in Imperial County, they come from and have extensive family in Santa Barbara, thus the appreciation for support is recognized by many. The support of the ranger, sheriff, fire and Lake Cachuma staff has been professional, courteous and sincere. The support from family, friends and community has been overwhelming. Special thanks to Rancho Alegre, camp host Lisa and lake staff for providing sleeping quarters and meals along the way.

But it’s been over a week since Isaiah was lost in the lake and that has been extremely painful, disheartening and frustrating to the family. It seems evident that Santa Barbara County is not properly equipped for this type of event in that multiple daily surface sonar scans, flyovers, periodic edge searches via jet ski and diving searches have produced negative results to this point.

Given that this has likely occurred in the past, recently, and may happen again, it would seem the appropriate county agencies would invest in equipment that would be adequate for this type of situation. We just read about a couple with adequate equipment who go around the country, successfully finding missing people in water within days of starting their search. Our own limited research indicates that maybe an investment in better equipment would well serve our county.

Another frustrating issue we just encountered is due to the lake vessel 30-day moratorium. While well-intentioned and necessary, a family friend who has been validated as contamination free at Lake Nacimiento contacted Lake Cachuma to offer his assistance to by using his proven High-Definition Side Scan special equipment that is superior to what has been used to date, but he was told he would have to wait the 30 days before entering the lake.

Again, frustrating. Why is this vessel welcome in one lake that protects against the concerned invasive species, Quagga, or zebra mussels, not welcome in another? Are there any community members out there not subject to the moratorium who may have better equipment and willingness to assist in the search? Our friend, a professional bass fisherman, has a high level of confidence that he or anyone with his type of equipment or better would be able to find Isaiah, and do so soon.

Maybe someone out there with authority to do so can facilitate some change and cut out any hindering bureaucracy.

A plea for help along with best regards,

— Rich Munoz
(Isaiah’s uncle)

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