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Missing L.A. County deputy found dead

October 20, 2009 12:10:33 AM PDT
A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was reported missing after going for a workout in the Cleveland National Forest was found dead Tuesday. Officials from the Sheriff's Department said they found a body believed to be that of 42-year-old Zoltan Tombol at around 2:20 p.m.

How the deputy died was not immediately released.

Search dogs traced his scent to an edge of a cliff, where his body was found.

"The Riverside County Sheriff's Department will be conducting a death investigation," said Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Gutierrez said Tombol's remains would be taken to the coroner's office in Perris, where an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday.

"This is all under investigation and all of this will be looked at from top to bottom, and when it's appropriate, if they can they will release further information," said Steve Whitmore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "It's a sad day for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. We've lost a 19-year veteran, a valued member of our family."

Tombol was reported missing on Sunday at about 6:30 p.m. by his wife shortly after making his usual drive out to the foothills of the Cleveland National Forest for a workout along the mountain's marked trails.

"He missed a routine appointment in collecting and picking up his son, which gave some red flags to his wife," said Whitmore.

A multi-agency search team of more than 100, including some on horseback and some with dogs, scoured a three-mile area in the forest.

They began searching for the deputy on Monday afternoon and suspended the search shortly after sunset.

Monday's initial search traced the deputy's jogging path up a cliff, but stopped short of finding him.

An aerial search got under way in Corona at about 7 a.m. Tuesday, followed by ground crews.

Tombol's Ford F150 pickup truck was found Monday at the end of a fire access road against the forest, south of Green River Road and the 91 Freeway.

Investigators said no foul play was suspected in the disappearance.

Authorities said the deputy was an avid hiker and jogger. They said he was in excellent physical condition, and his family was used to him going off on long runs.

Tombol was a 19-year veteran of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and worked out of the training bureau in Whittier. He leaves behind a wife and a son.

Officials say they will not have a cause of death until toxicology results come back in six to eight weeks.

Eyewitness News reporter Lisa Hernandez contributed to this report.


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