Local Redondo Beach man still missing in Mendocino County
Chelsea Sektnan|July 9, 2013 4:33 pm
Photo of Erik Lamberg submitted by Samantha Lamberg
Law enforcement has called off the search for local man Erik Lamberg, 51, who went missing in Mendocino County on May 29. But his Hermosa Beach family still holds out hope for his safe return.
“The Mendocino Sheriff’s office told me they didn’t have any directions to go in and I understand,” said Samantha Lamberg, the missing man’s wife. “Where he went missing is very forested and terrain is very difficult. I had people from down here who wanted to go search and they strongly discouraged me from having anyone do that. They didn’t want anyone else to get lost or hurt.”
Lamberg, who had been living in Redondo Beach, was reported missing after he was having car trouble around 11:30 p.m. on May 26. He’d told family and friends he was “getting away” for a little while and didn’t have an exact itinerary. His wife became suspicious when she didn’t hear from him, because he was conscientious about staying in contact with his family. He lodged at a Budget Inn in Laytonville, in Northern California, for two days after having his 2004 Honda Odyssey towed for repairs. He called his family that night to say that he was “fine.”
That was the last time Lamberg was seen or heard from.
“I guess you don’t have an instruction book about how these things work,” said Samantha. “I just have to rely on what they [the police] think is appropriate. They said the investigation is still open and they would actively investigate any leads.”
She added that the police said that oftentimes tips will be sent in through family members or a website instead of through police.
“I had an old fashion vision of what you do in small towns when someone is missing,” Samantha said. “But they don’t suggest putting up flyers. Instead, they suggested we put something up on social media and encouraged us to get articles out there incase somebody recognizes him.”
Mendocino Police Lt. Shannon Barney said that the department received an abandoned vehicle report matching Lamberg’s van approximately 20 miles west of Willits, on Sherwood Road, June 1. Deputies responded and found the vehicle stuck in a ditch in the road and abandoned. Lt. Barney said that wood and other debris were placed under the tires in what looked like an attempt to free the vehicle, and large footprints were found near the van. No recent activity has been found on his cell phone or credit card. Clothes and other personal belongings, including a cell phone charger, were left in the car.
The local Search and Rescue (SAR) combed the area near the location where the van was discovered, utilizing tracking dogs, for days after his disappearance. They gave up the search after the dogs hit multiple dead ends. Family members joined the search, passing out flyers and asking people in nearby communities if they recognized his photo. Samantha has been actively reaching out to local media in L.A., Mendocino County in and the Oregon area where he was heading.
“According to the wife, he’s not really good with directions, but in this area if he’s stuck on the road there’s only one way in and one way out – it’s not like its open country. It’s dense straight up and down forests,” Lt. Barney said, adding that an aerial search would be virtually impossible because of the dense ground cover. “It’s feasible he could have walked out, been picked up and given a ride. Or he could have, and I don’t know why, walked into the forest at any given point in probably a 30-mile long road.”
Barney said he hypothesizes that Lamberg may have been picked up by a car, and urges anybody with information to call the police.
“We have to get to get really lucky somehow, as awful as that sounds,” Samantha Lamberg said. “Someone is going to have to find him somewhere in the forest because they’ll be in the right place or the right time,” said Samantha Lamberg. “Or if in fact he did get taken in by somebody up there or did somehow hitchhike out of there, he’s going to have to surface. The fact that he still hasn’t used a cell phone or credit card or tried to contact us is obviously really, really alarming.”
The couple has two children in Hermosa Beach.
“At this point I’m just trying to keep my kid’s lives as normal as I can because that’s the best thing I can do for them,” Samantha said. “I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be a child living in this situation. It’s my great wish to get my kids through this intact, and obviously if we can find Erik and have some closure that would make our lives so much more clear cut. To live with person who’s missing is going to be a really hard thing for all of us….The terrain we’re dealing with is uncharted. There aren’t rights or wrongs. I just sort of have to go with my gut about what’s the best thing to do.”
Lamberg is described as 6’5”, 200 pounds with sandy blond hair and blue eyes. The family told police that he may be experiencing mental health issues but has shown no violent tendencies in the past.
The Sheriff’s Department requests anyone with information to call 707-463-4086.