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Family of TV anchor who was missing says she had medical problem

February 28, 2013 | 10:46 pm

Paula LopezThe family of Santa Barbara TV news anchor Paula Lopez, who returned home after she was reported missing, said Thursday that she suffered a medical emergency that prevented her from communicating with other people.

Lopez, 48, who anchors for KEYT-TV Channel 3, was reported missing Wednesday morning. Lopez is a longtime fixture in the Santa Barbara community and is married to a Superior Court judge.

Her family alerted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office that she was gone, triggering a quick response by deputies who used search dogs as they scoured the area. 

On Thursday, her family thanked well-wishers and sheriff's personnel and spoke out for the first time on the circumstances involving her reported disappearance.

"We are extremely grateful to the Santa Barbara community and to the multitude of Paula’s well-wishers who shared in our concern for Paula yesterday. As a family, we were very alarmed because Paula was experiencing a medical condition that caused her to be unable to communicate with us. She is now receiving appropriate medical care and we hope and expect that her treatment will enable her to recover quickly," the family said in a statement, which was published on the KEYT-TV website.

"We would especially like to thank the representatives of the Office of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff and its Search and Rescue Unit for the diligent and professional assistance they provided to us during Paula’s medical emergency," the family said.

Lopez, who spent six years at KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles, co-anchors the Santa Barbara station's 11 p.m. broadcast. She has spent the better part of two decades at KEYT, where she first worked as an intern in 1985, according to her biography on KEYT's website. She then worked at KCAL in Los Angeles before returning to KEYT in 1996 to spend more time with her family.

Lopez and her husband, Frank Ochoa, have three children.

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— Robert J. Lopez

twitter.com/LAJourno

Photo: Paula Lopez. Credit:  KEYT-TV Channel 3
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