CRIME
03/01/2013 01:29 pm ET

Paula Lopez Had 'Medical Emergency' During Disappearance, Anchorwoman's Family Says

A California newswoman experienced an unspecified "medical condition" that prevented her from communicating with others during a major search mission to find her on Wednesday, her family said.

Paula Lopez's family reported her missing half an hour after she was last seen in her Santa Barbara home on Wednesday morning. About eight hours later, the KEYT newscaster was home safe.

Initially, the 48-year-old's family wouldn't say what caused her to go missing or why they were so quickly panicked since they'd seen her 30 minutes before they called authorities for help.

On Thursday, they released a statement to her station that hinted at their reason for alarm.

"We are extremely grateful to the Santa Barbara community and to the multitude of Paula’s well-wishers who shared in our concern for Paula yesterday. As a family, we were very alarmed because Paula was experiencing a medical condition that caused her to be unable to communicate with us," the statement said.

"She is now receiving appropriate medical care and we hope and expect that her treatment will enable her to recover quickly. We would especially like to thank the representatives of the office of the Santa Barbara County sheriff and its search and rescue unit for the diligent and professional assistance they provided to us during Paula’s medical emergency."

They wouldn't provide details however, saying it was a private matter, the Associated Press wrote.

The anchorwoman had called in sick the evening before her disappearance.

The Santa Barbara County sheriff deployed search dogs and a helicopter. Some wondered if Lopez, a married mother of three, got special treatment, because police often wait a day before launching a search.

The quick response was necessary because Lopez was "an at risk missing person," a sheriff's department spokesperson told Radar. "Her family had serious reason to be concerned about her welfare and to think that she could need urgent medical attention."

Cameras recorded her returning home on Wednesday evening in a car driven by her husband Frank Ochoa, a Superior Court judge, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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