Orange County sheriff’s investigators have identified a body discovered beneath a van in a ravine off Ortega Highway as that of a North Tustin man who was reported missing last Saturday.
Richard Alan Haltman, 31, left the home where he lived with his brother on Oct. 12, apparently despondent over some personal problems, Sheriff’s Lt. Robert Rivas said Friday.
By Oct. 15, his family had not heard from him and filed a missing person’s report with the Sheriff’s Department, Rivas said.
The next day, a sheriff’s helicopter found Haltman’s van in a ravine 300 feet below Ortega Highway about 14 miles east of Interstate 5, Rivas said. An Orange County sheriff’s search-and-rescue team combed the area until nightfall, but found neither Haltman nor any signs of blood inside the smashed van, Rivas said. The team had planned to conduct another search later in the week, Rivas said.
An investigator told Haltman’s family that the van had been found, and one of Haltman’s relatives decided to search the area himself Thursday. When he reached the ravine, there was a strong odor coming from the vehicle, Rivas said.
The relative contacted authorities, who brought in a tow truck to remove the van. Haltman’s body was discovered underneath, Rivas said.
“An autopsy is being performed to determine the actual cause of death,” Rivas said. “Apparently at this time there are no skid marks in the area where the vehicle went off the road, so an autopsy is being performed to see whether it was an accident or suicide. . . . The investigation is continuing.”
Rivas said the missing person’s report indicated that Haltman may have lost his job recently.
“His family was concerned that he was despondent,” he said.