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Los Angeles County fire captain's death ruled a suicide by coroner's officials

Los Angeles County fire captain's death ruled a suicide by coroner's officials
Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Wayne Stuart Habell, 43, was reported missing after leaving his home in Newhall on Aug. 13. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

A Los Angeles County fire captain whose body was found in Montecito on Saturday — days after he had gone missing — died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Santa Barbara County coroner’s officials said Monday.

Capt. Wayne Stuart Habell’s body was found on Hot Springs Canyon Trail about 6 p.m. Saturday, coroner’s officials said.

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On Sunday, the Local 1014 chapter of the International Assn. of Firefighters released a statement about Habell that called attention to depression among firefighters.

“We cannot afford to remain silent any longer — don’t let depression live in the shadows. Each day our members battle post traumatic stress injuries and cumulative stress injuries,” union President Dave Gillotte wrote. “We need to bring these issues into the light to ensure people get the help they need.”

Habell had left his home in Newhall to go to the gym on Aug. 13 and never returned.

Four days later, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked near the Hot Springs Canyon Trail and discovered an SUV that was registered to Habell, who had been listed as an “at-risk missing person.”

A man who exited the car was last seen walking alone up the trailhead, authorities said.

Sheriff’s deputies searched the area by ground and air on Friday and early Saturday. That evening, they discovered Habell’s body in the canyon.

2:35 p.m.: This article was updated with Wayne Stuart Habell’s cause of death.

This article was originally published at 8:20 a.m.

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