Updated, 5:30 p.m., August 20: “The cause and manner of death is a suicide, by a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office in a statment this afternoon. “Next of kin has been notified.”
Search teams on Saturday evening discovered the body of Los Angeles County Fire Captain Wayne Habell in the mountains above Montecito.
The 43-year-old husband and father of three had been missing for several days, last seen leaving his Newhall home on the morning of August 13; four days later his black Chrysler SUV, parked at the Hot Springs trailhead on East Mountain Drive, was reported as a suspicious vehicle.
According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Habell’s vehicle had been parked at the trailhead since Monday, and its driver was seen walking up the trail alone. Teams searched the area Friday until dark, and resumed on Saturday. Habell’s body was found around 6 p.m., according to authorities, who continue to investigate the cause and manner of death.
A fellow Los Angeles County fire captain told a newspaper in the Santa Clarita Valley that Habell suffered from depression.
On its Facebook page, the department stated, “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.”