Family, friends search for man missing in San Bernardino Mountains for over a week
More than a week after Derrick Kwan was last seen in the mountains after leaving his Diamond Bar home, San Bernardino County authorities on Tuesday called for the public’s help in finding the missing 27-year-old as his family and friends criticized the law enforcement response as slow and disjointed.
Kwan was carrying a water bottle and wearing a T-shirt, shorts and a pair of slippers when a doorbell camera captured him leaving his family home around 11 a.m. March 27.
Later that day, a California Highway Patrol officer found Kwan’s silver Toyota abandoned on Highway 138 near Crestline Canyon in the San Bernardino Mountains after responding to a report of a traffic collision.
The officer said he recognized the car as one of two he had seen positioned on a turnout about 40 minutes earlier as two people changed a tire off the highway near Crestline. The pair declined assistance, the CHP officer said.
Los Angeles police are asking for the public’s help finding Theo Alexander Guarino, who went missing last week amid a custody dispute.
Witnesses said a person matching Kwan’s description who was in the car ran off, carrying two large bags. Officer Jacob Griede, a CHP spokesperson, said the person ran toward Highway 18 and in the direction of the woods.
An officer checked the area after the collision but did not find Kwan, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Days later, friends said, they found Kwan’s slippers not far from where his car was spotted, about 50 miles from his home.
The man’s father, Benny Kwan, said his son has had issues with his mental health and has refused to see a medical professional. He said he is worried that something happened in the mountains that caused his son to have a mental breakdown and flee into the wilderness.
None of the details about his son’s disappearance add up, Benny Kwan said, including the response from law enforcement.
Benny Kwan reported his son missing to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department a day after the car was found, but authorities told him they would not be able to take his missing person’s report. Initially, Kwan said, he was told that his son’s case was labeled as a voluntary adult missing person and that the car was involved in a CHP pursuit.
“Then someone told the CHP they saw an Asian man walking down Highway 18 carrying two bags,” Benny Kwan said Tuesday. “None of this makes sense. The pieces don’t fit and it all stinks.”
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said it does not have any information about the incident.
On Thursday, Kwan was reported missing to the San Bernardino Police Department, and deputies with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Twin Peaks station went to look for Kwan but did not find him.
County search and rescue teams went out Sunday but cut their search short due to weather. Crews searched again Tuesday while deputies and volunteers circulated a photo of Kwan to residents and businesses in the area.
Deputies found the man during morning checks at the West Valley Detention Center, where he had been transferred because of unspecified health issues.
David Chiang, a childhood friend of Kwan, said friends and relatives had already been searching for days, spreading their own fliers through local communities, because they felt law enforcement was too slow in mounting a search for Kwan.
“We want to make sure this doesn’t happen to other people if someone goes missing and there’s an issue where law enforcement doesn’t just kick this case around, like Derrick’s life is some kind of game,” Chiang said. “You know, this is a real human being who’s going through a tough time. And he’s in need of us right now.”
Mara Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, said deputies will be “continuing their efforts to find Derrick Kwan.”
Anyone with information about Kwan’s whereabouts can contact the Twin Peaks sheriff’s station at (909) 336-0600 or the WeTip hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME.
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