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Woman on way to residential care goes missing

January 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Police are seeking a woman who has been missing since Friday. Saron Belay, 37, was last seen near Pioneer Boulevard and 166th Street in Artesia on Friday.The boundary between Artesia and Norwalk is marked by 166th Street. Belay's family said she was treated for a couple of weeks for psychiatric problems at Pacific Hospital of Long Beach. Then on Friday the hospital was transporting her by taxi to a private residential care facility near here, but the driver dropped her at the wrong house.

"The amount of energy that we spend, I don't know," said Lydia Belay, Sharon's sister.

Belay's family is now desperate to find her. She has been missing for four days. They say it was many hours before the Love and Care Residential Facility notified them she never arrived.

"The person who called us was from Love and Care Unit, and she said, 'Your sister hasn't showed up, I've been waiting for her,'" said Lydia.

"I didn't know who she was, I mean I couldn't help her, I mean I didn't know," said nearby resident Luis Perez.

Perez lives at 11864 E. 166th Street. He says that Belay showed up on his front door Friday morning apparently thinking she was at her destination, but the cab driver had missed the care facility by four blocks.

"But I knew something was wrong because she kept telling me, 'I'm lost, I'm lost.' And I was like, 'Well, can I help you?' and she said, 'No, well I have the wrong house,' and that's it," said Perez. "She basically stood right here and just kept looking around like she was lost."

Perez says that he last saw Belay confused and lost walking south on Clarkdale Avenue. A few minutes later, visitors at a community center helped her use the restroom. Then she disappeared again. She walked past a dairy mart on 166th Street several times according to the owner.

"I saw her go back this way on the sidewalk," said nearby store-owner 'Lorimer.' "Then after like about five minutes, then she went back again. Then I started to say, 'What is she doing here?' because there is not too many different people walking like that."

Lydia Belay said that she reported her missing, but the L.A. County Sheriff's Department hasn't seemed very cooperative.

"I called them yesterday, and they said, 'We call you, you don't call us,'" said Lydia.

The family spent the weekend canvassing the area for miles around, but they found no sign of Sharon, and they fear the worst.

"She is very shy. She doesn't want to ask people for help and she doesn't communicate, that's the problem," said Lydia.

Pacific Hospital of Long Beach issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the hospital is concerned that one of its discharged patients is now missing and that her disappearance was caused by a miscommunication between the taxi company and its driver. The hospital has used that taxi company for the last eight years to augment their own transportation services and it's never happened before.

If you have seen Sharon Belay, or know where she might be right now, please report that information to the Norwalk L.A. County Sheriff's station at (562) 863-8711.