Search yields no trace of San Luis Obispo man

No trace of missing San Luis Obispo man George Carpenter was found despite extended search efforts this past weekend in Monterey County.

Authorities don’t know what will come next but say the case is still active and that a meeting will be held today to determine what else, if anything, can be done.

A San Luis Obispo search-and-rescue team, composed of about two dozen people, partnered with members of the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department to do a second search of the area where Carpenter’s truck was found on Jan. 23. A cadaver dog was also used in the search.

The truck was found exactly one month after Carpenter was reported missing after he was said to be taking his dog to the Laguna Lake dog park.

On Sunday, six search teams spent more than seven hours combing miles of rugged terrain, looking for any clues of his whereabouts.

The area, at a 3,300-foot elevation, was between Big Sur and Fort Hunter Liggett. Because of recent storms and poor road conditions, search crews had to use four-wheel-drive vehicles and ATVs to access the area.

“If he had tumbled down an embankment 30 or 40 yards, we could probably have walked by him — that is how dense and thick the area is with brush,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Maki, who coordinates the local search-and-rescue program.

Three detectives from the San Luis Obispo Police Department who assisted with search efforts Sunday also looked for clues Saturday — taking Scooter, Carpenter’s black Labrador retriever found last week in nearby Gorda, back to the scene in the hope that the dog might pick up a familiar scent.

“We let him wander, but he didn’t go anywhere specific or with any purpose,” said San Luis Obispo Capt. Chris Staley. “Unfortunately, he didn’t give any indication of where George could’ve been.”

Staley said additional ground searches are not planned, adding that several flyovers of the area have also been done. Detectives will discuss any other options that might still be tried, he said.

“I honestly don’t know what else we can do at this point,” Staley said. “We had hoped we would find an answer for the family.”

Everyone involved is disappointed, Staley said.

“The hardest thing to do is to call a search off,” Maki said. “But you could literally search every day for the next couple of years and at some point, you have to say we’ve put enough resources in, and it is well past the point of diminishing returns.”