Search teams found the body of a man Saturday evening in a remote Santa Barbara County canyon near the Hot Springs Trailhead, where a vehicle belonging to a missing Los Angeles County Fire Department captain from Newhall was found Friday afternoon.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Search & Rescue deputies located the man’s body around 6 p.m. Saturday, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sunday morning.
The Santa Barbara County Coroner’s office was unable to confirm the man’s identity as of 11 a.m. Sunday, but it was believed to be Wayne Stuart Habell, 43, an LA County Fire Department captain assigned to Fire Station 73 in Newhall.
LACoFD posted the following on its Facebook page Sunday afternoon: “It is with great pain and sorrow that we mourn the loss of Fire Captain Wayne Habell. Captain Habell leaves behind a wife and three children. Everyone including his Fire Department family is devastated. Our deepest condolences and sympathies to the entire Habell family.”
Habell was last seen leaving his home on Monday, driving a 2008 Black Chrysler Aspen with California license plate 6KMB757.
A missing persons alert was issued Thursday.
Habell’s vehicle was found at the trailhead about 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon, and Santa Barbara County authorities began a ground and air search that ended with the discovery of the man’s body.
Here’s the latest from the LASD:
“On August 17, 2018, around 2 p.m., Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area of Hot Springs Trailhead on a report of a suspicious vehicle that was parked near the trailhead since Monday, August 13, 2018.
“The solo male occupant was last seen walking up the trailhead. The vehicle is registered to Wayne Habell, of Newhall, who was listed as an at-risk missing person out of Los Angeles County.
“Sheriff’s deputies, the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit and Santa Barbara Search and Rescue team members responded and began an extensive search of the area. The search teams were unable to locate Mr. Habell.
“Due to darkness, the search was called off until the early morning hours on August 18, 2018, when Search and Rescue and the Air Support Unit resumed their search for Mr. Habell.
“On August 18, 2018, around 6 p.m., a male decedent was located in the canyon. The body was taken to the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office for further investigation.
“At this time, the Coroner’s Office is unable to confirm the identity of the decedent. The cause and manner of death are still under investigation.
“No further details will be released at this time.”
Santa Barbara County officials were unavailable for further updates Monday morning.