The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said Thursday their search for a missing KEYT anchorwoman did not involve preferential treatment because of her position. Paula Lopez was found safe after being missing eight hours on Wednesday.
Her family reported her missing 10 a.m. Wednesday and she was back home by 5:30 p.m. The search included crews in a helicopter and two K-9 teams on the ground. A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, Kelly Hoover, said the intense search was based on Lopez needing medical attention and because she did not have a history of running away or disappearing.
"Any time we have an at-risk missing person, it is our policy to immediately begin searching for that person," said Hoover.
Lopez lives with her husband, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa, and their three children in Santa Barbara.
Thursday afternoon, her family released a statement saying, "We are extremely grateful to the Santa Barbara community and to the multitude of Paula’s well-wishers who shared in our concern for Paula yesterday. As a family, we were very alarmed because Paula was experiencing a medical condition that caused her to be unable to communicate with us. She is now receiving appropriate medical care and we hope and expect that her treatment will enable her to recover quickly. We would especially like to thank the representatives of the Office of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff and its Search and Rescue Unit for the diligent and professional assistance they provided to us during Paula’s medical emergency."
From Mark Danielson, General Manager of KEYT-TV:
"On behalf of the KEYT family, we are thrilled to learn that our beloved friend and colleague Paula Lopez is now safe. We are looking forward to her quick recovery. At the request of the family, we will respect their wishes for privacy and refer all questions to local law enforcement who worked hard to find Paula safe and sound."
No word on when Lopez will return to the anchor desk at KEYT in Santa Barbara.