Laguna Lake underwater search finds no clues about missing San Luis Obispo man

Tribune photo by Jayson Mellom

The Sheriff’s Department dive team did not locate any signs of missing San Luis Obispo man George Carpenter in a search of Laguna Lake on Wednesday.

Sam Larkin, a volunteer diver on the team, spent more than an hour searching the area near the lake’s boat ramp in case Carpenter’s pickup had been driven into the water from the cement launch pad.

Larkin wore an airtight suit during the search to protect him from the pollutants in the lake, considered an environmental “hot zone” because the water is so dirty.

The search was done at the request of Carpenter’s family, who, with the help of community volunteers, has conducted exhaustive searches throughout San Luis Obispo County.

“I can only speak for myself, but I believe we are all trying to balance living, grieving, hopefulness, fear and appreciation to the community,” said Beth Wonson, Carpenter’s daughter-in-law. “I feel so sad for all those people who knew, respect or love George and are in limbo.”

Larkin’s search extended about 70 feet from the lake’s shoreline Wednesday and covered an area that would have included Carpenter’s truck had it been driven into the lake from the boat ramp. The lake in that area reaches a depth of about 7 feet.

“The dive is done in a way that 100 percent of the area being searched is covered — leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that a person, vehicle or dog are not under the water,” said Deputy Todd Steeb, also a member of the dive team.

Carpenter, 74, who suffers from dementia, was reported missing Dec. 23 after he took the family’s black Labrador retriever to Laguna Lake Park and didn’t return home.

So far, despite extensive searches, no sign of Carpenter, his dog or his pickup has been found.

A group has been created on the social networking web site Facebook to coordinate information about the search. The page is called “Find George Carpenter.” View the Facebook group at http://tiny.cc/6TNrN.

Carpenter is described as a white man with gray hair and green eyes. He is about 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds. His black Labrador retriever, Scooter, does not have a tail and is wearing a black collar with Carpenter’s home phone number on the dog tag.

Carpenter was driving his gray 1989 Jeep Comanche pickup with a camper shell; its license plate number is 3W27270. The truck has a “Darwin” fish with legs decal on the back.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information that will help locate Carpenter. Call San Luis Obispo police at 781-7317 with any information.

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