The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is following up on tips as it continues the search Monday for a missing Big Bear hotshot firefighter more than a week after his disappearance.
Carlos Alexander Baltazar, 35, hasn’t been seen since Sept. 20, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The California Highway Patrol recovered his abandoned vehicle that same day in the area of Highway 18 and Delta Avenue, which is northeast of Big Bear.
He may have been picked up near there by someone driving a Subaru, officials said in a Monday evening news release without elaborating.
Authorities didn’t initially realize the vehicle belonged to Baltazar until his family reported him missing on Sept. 24.
Crews then began a search by ground and air, and located the missing man’s backpack less than 100 yards away from where his abandoned car was discovered, a sheriff’s news release stated. The vehicle itself had been involved in a minor crash, according to the CHP, but few details about the collision were provided.
Baltazar, who is part of U.S. Forest Service Interagency Hotshot Crew, was off duty when he disappeared.
Family members told KTLA that he had been depressed since his captain — Charles Morton — died battling the El Dorado Fire on Sept. 17. Baltazar had been part of the team that found Morton’s remains in the ruins of the wildfire, which investigators said was sparked by a gender reveal party over Labor Day weekend.
“I think that it just weighed heavily on him — because they are so close — that he wasn’t able to help him… knowing that he couldn’t do anything for him,” his sister, Veronica Baltazar, told KTLA.
Carlos Baltazar had planned to attend Morton’s memorial service, which was held in San Bernardino last Friday. Relatives don’t believe he would take his own life and they say it’s unlike him to not keep in contact with them.
“At this point, I really don’t care how he comes home,” his sister said through tears. “I just want my brother home.”
The Sheriff’s Department describes Baltazar as Hispanic, about 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and weighing approximately 175 pounds. He has brown eyes and is bald.
Anyone with information is urged to call sheriff’s dispatch at 909- 866-7581 or the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station at 909-866-0100.