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Search Fails to Turn Up Man Who Left Pyramid Lake Picnic, Then Disappeared

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rescue crews scoured the shrub-covered hills around Pyramid Lake on Monday in search of a man who mysteriously vanished after telling relatives he needed to use a bathroom less than 100 yards away, authorities said.

Pedro Flores Ruiz, 24, was last seen by relatives about 5:10 p.m. Sunday during a picnic at the Spanish Point area of the lake, which is about 20 miles northwest of Magic Mountain, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Davidheiser.

Davidheiser said it was unclear Monday if Ruiz got lost in the rugged terrain, drowned or intentionally left his family and hitchhiked away from the lake. Overnight temperatures at the 2,500-foot-high lake dipped into the 40s, and Ruiz was reportedly wearing only a T-shirt, shorts and sneakers.

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Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Search and Rescue team looked for Ruiz on the steep hillsides that surround the lake throughout Sunday night and Monday. A helicopter searched from the air and a boat covered the lake surface during daylight hours.

The search was discontinued Monday evening because searchers felt they could do no more, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Ruiz, from Guadalajara, Mexico, was staying with relatives in Pasadena while he looked for a job, according to a cousin, Miguel Hernandez.

The family was picnicking on the lake shore Sunday when Ruiz told relatives he was going to use bathrooms about 75 to 100 yards away, visible from the picnic ground, said Hernandez, 26.

But he never returned.

Hernandez said his cousin had not been drinking and appeared to be in good spirits during the family picnic attended by about 17 people. He said Ruiz chatted in Spanish with several of the men, played with the children and relaxed in the sunlight, but did not swim because the water was too cold.

After Ruiz failed to return, his relatives searched for several hours before contacting sheriff’s deputies at dusk Sunday. Hernandez and two other relatives stayed overnight at the lake, sleeping in Hernandez’s van and snacking on food from the Red Cross, waiting nervously for news about their cousin.

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