Missing Los Osos woman found injured from crash

September 16, 2012

Suzanne Kay Smith


A missing Los Osos woman was found injured in a barn near Ragged Point earlier today, a week after she crashed her truck into a light pole.

A man renting the barn discovered Suzanne Kay Smith, 59, taking refuge inside the structure. Emergency medical crews then transported Smith to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

Smith’s niece, Barbara Quiroga, said her aunt is very dehydrated but in stable condition.

“It is a miracle that she was found,” Quiroga said. “I would like to thank Jim, the renter at the property, for his effort. Our family is so relieved.”

On Monday, Jora Landis reported that Smith, her neighbor of 16 years, was missing. The next day, officers discovered Smith’s wrecked truck north of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and had the damaged vehicle towed away. However, they did not connect the accident to the missing person’s report filed earlier.

“We are puzzled by the length of time it took to make the connection,” Smith’s niece said. “The family had to put it together.”

Landis also wonders why officers did not look for a victim when they first discovered the wrecked truck off the road in a rural area.

“If they see a car accident, why do they not look for the person,” Landis said “Why did they not put it together when they found the wreck on Tuesday. I reported her missing on Monday. I am flabbergasted.”


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I was under the impression that when a vehicle is associated with a missing person that the reporting agency is supposed to enter the veh license plate into the DMV and Dept of Justice data base. When a police officer comes across the vehicle and runs a check on the plate it pops up as associated with a missing person, thus allowing further investigation.

To me it sounds like the vehicle was not entered into the system or that the officer who investigated the vehicle once it was found didnt do any further investigation related to the missing person.

It would probably be easty to determine what happened if you listened to the dispatch radio traffic

Here’s hoping for a detailed story on Suzanne by Cal Coast News. It will be interesting to see if bail is rescinded on her outstanding case, since she has now demonstrated that she is a flight risk. Perhaps she will then get the help she so desperately needs. I think there’s a lot more than a sore tooth going on here…

I can’t believe how the Tribune wrote this story. They do not state that her car had been found crashed into a pole. The rather state that she told the person who found her that she had been in an accident. They go on to state that Tony Cippolta said he does not believe that she had any injuries rather than clarify what treatment she did require such as dehydration and there is no mention that she suffers from mental illness. The article then end by stating the following……….

“Before she went missing, Smith had been arrested Sept. 6 on allegations of burglary and inflicting injury on an elder.”

It looks to me like the SLOSD and the Tribune are attempting to deflect any lack of competence on their part and putting it all on the victim as if she was intentionally hiding. Clearly that isn’t the case.

Thank You for all the facts CCN.

I might add Cindy that her neighbor of 16 years gave detailed information about the case that Mr. Cipolla chose not to put in. All of it was factual and pertained to the case. Why he chose to leave it out is beyond me. Many of the questions people are asking would have been answered if he had done his job as a journalist.

Tony Cipolla is NOT a journalist, folks. He is the PR spokesperson for the sheriff’s department, and has to put out info that his bosses tell him to put out — or, leave out info.

Jeez, it ain’t rocket sciemce.: (1). Cop finds car, (2). Cop gets DMV printout from DMV in his/her car while on scene, (3), cop contacts address on printout to make inquiry (give it 20 minutes tops). (4) Cop told

by residents who car belongs to and that she is missing and has a psych record (5) Search begins ASAP

I’m glad that everything worked out for the best with this incident. The questions have to asked why would Ms. Smith be out driving alone? Was the vehicle registered to her? Did the DMV issue a drivers license to her? I think many lessons could be learned by all here.

Mr Holly to answer your questions.

and thank you for asking them.

she was driving alone because she lived alone. She has held a valid drivers license since she was 16. The vehicle was her registered vehicle.

She was upset and distressed when she went missing. I don’t know what happened after that. We will know more in the coming days as she gets her strength back.

Her family thanks everyone who helped find her.

Kind regards,

Ms. Smith’s niece

Twig, it’s good to know your aunt will be fine. Allow us to extend our most sincere outrage to your family on how the Sheriff’s Dept. handled this case. There are no excuses for ther “failure to communicate”. Blessings to you all.

Suzie is doing well, clear CAT scan, getting fluids and feeling greatful for anyone who has prayed for her.

Thank you so much to everyone in the Los Osos community that came by to offer support to our family.

Regarding the search of my aunt Suzanne Smith.

I would like to thank the police, Search and Rescue team and Canine units for looking for my Aunt. I would like to thank Her neighbor of 16 years who has been up with my sisters and I every day every hour tracking her every last move and lead. For all our friends on facebook who shared her picture just because she means something to our family. I personally do not lay blame anywhere or on anyone. Everyone did their best. If there is lessons to learn or systems to perfect I know they will do this. I would like to thank anyone who has come forward with words of love and friendship for Suzie. I do not speak for my family but I think they would be ok with me saying thank you for any effort we are so moved.

Thank you for being good humans.

Warmest Sincerity,

Mindy Dalzell

Good post.

Very happy to see that Suzie is doing well. She seems like a very nice lady.

Yes, you’d think that this would have triggered a search. Maybe they’re afraid to dirty up all that expensive equipment taxpayers have ‘gifted’ to them?

Sarcasm aside, I think the lack of follow-up is a disgrace.

okay… why did she really leave the scene of an accident??

KSBY’s website had comments from the woman’s nieces which said she suffers from mental illness. They also said there were notes to family members found inside the vehicle. I’m sure the family, along with all of us interested community members, are just SO glad she was found alive!

Sounds like the Sheriff’s dept needs to hire a full time PR person at around $85K a year so the information given to the public can help save someone’s life.

You might be just a little too wry in your sarcasm for some, but good job anyway…

I am flabbergasted that the information given to the public just said that her vehicle had been found and towed. If the public had known there was an accident with the victim missing (having wandered off injured), I think a different and more intensive search would have been done.