Body of missing deputy taken for autopsy

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Personal Injury News

Article Date: 10/21/2009 | Resource: MLG

Body of missing deputy taken for autopsy

“L.A. Sheriff’s deputy from Yorba Linda was hiking in Cleveland National Forest.”

Police have found the body of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who went missing Sunday while hiking in the Cleveland National Forest.

Zoltan Tombol, 42, was an avid hiker and cross-country runner who went missing near Green River Road and the 91 freeway, said Brea police Sgt. Bill Smyser.

“We found him deceased off one of the trailheads up there,” Smyser said.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will handle the death investigation, Smyser said.

Tombol’s body was discovered by a search and rescue team walking through the area on foot, Riverside officials said. Neither Brea police or Riverside Sheriffs officials would comment on whether Tombol died of exposure to the elements or whether there was foul play.

“It’s a sad day for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. We have lost a valued member of our family,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “Our thoughts and prayers are now focused with his family, friends and loved ones.”

Under a crescent moon, a Riverside County Coroner’s van escorted by California Highway Patrol officers and Riverside sheriff’s deputies brought Tombol’s body down the hillside and onto the Eastbound 91 at 6:40 p.m. As the somber procession passed the temporary command post, a dozen law enforcement personnel saluted.

The search began after Tombol’s wife filed a missing person report Sunday evening with the Brea Police Department after he failed to pick up his son from a cousin’s house. His wife last saw him about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, said Lt. Darrin Devereux of the Brea police.
Corona police found Tombol’s Ford F-150 pickup parked at the end of a fire access road near Green River Road and the 91 freeway. The truck was searched and there were no signs of foul play, Smyser said.
“He is in exquisite shape,” Whitmore said this morning of Tombol, a 19-year department veteran who has worked in the training division since 2005. Tombol is also a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne, the Sheriff’s Department said.

The search resumed this morning at sunrise. Three law enforcement helicopters operated out of a command post just off the 91 freeway, with the help of about 100 search and rescue personnel.

Search teams used several search dogs, police said.

The Brea Police Department led the search with help from several agencies, including the Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange County sheriff’s departments, the Corona Police Department, the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire.

Tens of thousands of passing motorists – especially those on the 91 Westbound – watched the massive search and rescue effort unfold in the hills of Corona and the Cleveland National Forest.

Most of the search team left the area by early evening, as the remaining law enforcement officials prepared to move Tombols’s body to a coroner’s facility in Perris. An autopsy will be conducted Wednesday, Riverside Sheriff’’s Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said, although standard toxicology tests may take up to 6 to 8 weeks to complete.
Whitmore said Tombol is survived by his wife, who is reportedly a sergeant with the LA County Sheriffs, and a 14-year-old son.

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Jeffrey Marquart