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Missing L.A. County Fire Captain Is Dead, Firefighters’ Union Says After Officials Discover Body in Montecito Area

A Los Angeles County fire captain who went missing on Monday was found dead, a firefighters' union said Sunday.

Although investigators have not confirmed the death of Capt. Wayne Stuart Habell, the Local 1014 chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters made the announcement the morning after officials found a body near his SUV in the Montecito area.

"It is with great sorrow and a heavy heart that we come together again to stand with a brother’s family and mourn the loss of one of our own," the group's website said.

The message continued:

We cannot afford to remain silent any longer—don’t let depression live in the shadows. Each day our members battle Post Traumatic Stress Injuries and Cumulative Stress Injuries. We need to bring these issues into the light to ensure people get the help they need. If you or someone you know needs help, please seek out resources and get help. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Take care of each other!

Deputies responded to the Hot Springs Trailhead on Friday afternoon following a report of a "suspicious vehicle" that had been parked near the trailhead since Monday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said.

Officials learned that the vehicle, a Chrysler Aspen, was registered to Habell. The SUV's only occupant, a male individual, was spotted walking toward the trail, according to investigators.

A search and rescue team, including an air support unit, started scouring the area but could not find Habell in the dark, the Sheriff's Office said. Crews resumed the search early Saturday and found a body in a canyon at around 6 p.m.

The remains were taken to the coroner's office, which has not released any information, including cause or manner of death.

Earlier in the week, Capt. Adam Clint with the L.A. County Fire Department told KTLA that nobody has had contact with Habell since Monday morning, when he left his home in Newhall for an L.A. Fitness facility in Stevenson Ranch.

Officials said Habell, a 13-year agency veteran and a father of three, worked at fire station 73 in Newhall.

"We are all devastated, not just his immediate family, but his brothers and sisters here in Los Angeles County Fire Department,” Inspector Gustavo Medina previously told KTLA.