Craig Kapitan, News Service (650) 724-5708; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Search continues for missing student
Stanford senior Christina "Minna" Sandmeyer is still missing despite a series of search efforts this week involving friends, family and local police agencies.
Sandmeyer, a 22-year-old civil engineering major who planned to return to classes in September after a year-long break, was last seen Friday morning. Authorities believe she left for a bicycle trip and was headed "oceanward."
She is 5'9" and 150 pounds, with gray-green eyes and brown, loose dreadlocks. Friends believe she was wearing bicycle shorts, a white helmet and possibly a blue fleece jacket when she left Friday.
Friends have set up a temporary website, http://www.baesman.net/minna, to mobilize volunteers who can help with the search.
On Tuesday the search effort involved the Santa Clara County Allied Agency Search and Rescue team, the California Highway Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, about 50 volunteers and members of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department.
Groups searched Portola State Park, Russian Ridge, Coal Creek and Long Ridge open space preserves, a sheriff's department representative said.
By Wednesday, police agencies had dropped out of the search, leaving friends and family to continue scouring local hills and trails.
"We found nothing (Tuesday)," said Sgt. Mike Eastus of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department. "Now we're continuing with the investigation internally."
Anyone with information that might be pertinent to the search effort is asked to call Sheriff Edward Atlas at (408) 299-2313.
Although the case does not involve the campus police department, university officials are eager to help out, said Stanford Dean of Students Marc Wais.
This is a unique situation for the school because it occurred during the summer session, when Sandmeyer wasn't living on campus or attending classes. With no worried roommates or classmates to counsel, university involvement is lower than usual for a missing person case, Wais said.
"But that doesn't diminish our efforts," he explained. "We're still working full-throttle in our efforts to find her."
Detectives with the Santa Clara Sheriff's Department are actively pursuing leads, Eastus said. Those include a sighting at Woodside Library Friday, where she might have downloaded maps of area trails. But so far, nothing is concrete.
Sandmeyer left a note for friends Friday morning before leaving a Los Altos Hills hostel, where she has been staying for the summer. She left no specific information about her destination.
"She could be on a long bike ride or trip," Eastus explained. "We just don't know."
A long bike ride wouldn't be unlikely for the student. An avid rider, Sandmeyer has taken bicycle trips to the ocean before. In 1999 she participated in Bike-Aid, a cross-country bike trek aimed at raising money for charities.
Searchers have partially focused on finding Sandmeyer's bicycle a white Cannondale touring bike with blue-striped tires and a head shock. She has been known to hide the bicycle behind bushes and go for a hike if she finds an interesting trail.
Volunteers also are looking for anyone who received an email from Sandmeyer on Friday. While at Woodside Library, she might have sent an email before her trek, said friend Emily McMilin.
"I don't see any reason not to be hopeful," she said of search efforts so far. "I think the more information that gets out there the better, because there's such a large area to search."
On Wednesday, volunteers focused on the Woodside area. Search efforts were coordinated from the parking lot of Woodside Elementary.
In September Sandmeyer planned on serving as a residential assistant at a student cooperative house. She enjoys organic farming and is active in RATS (Redwood Action Team at Stanford), a student group dedicated to protecting California's redwood ecosystem.
By Craig Kapitan