ORANGE COUNTY, CA — Orange County sheriff’s investigators are trying to find a 19-year-old college student who disappeared while he was home visiting his family for winter break.
Blaze Bernstein, a pre-med student at the University of Pennsylvania, went out with a friend at around 10:30 P.M. to Borrego Park on January 2. He never returned to his parents’ home in Foothill Ranch, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun.
According to a Facebook page posted by his father Gideon Bernstein, Help Us Find Blaze Bernstein, he was last seen in the park at around 11 P.M.
The friend told investigators that Bernstein had planned to meet a third person — but it is unclear from media reports what happened once Bernstein and the friend arrived at the park. The Los Angeles Times reported that the friend told authorities that he went to a restroom and Bernstein walked off.
But according to CBSLA, the friend waited in the car, and when Bernstein did not come back he drove off. The friend later reportedly became alarmed when Bernstein did not respond to text messages, and went back to look for him at 4:00 A.M., but did not find him.
According to CBSLA, Bernstein’s phone is now dead.
Braun said: “We do not believe foul play was involved at this point, and the friend is only a witness, not a suspect or person of concern.”
According to the elder Bernstein, the reason why his son went out that night is “a big mystery” to his family. Gideon said that the family does not know the person that Bernstein planned to meet. Bernstein had been in lengthy communication with this unnamed person using social-media apps that do not leave a permanent record, authorities said.
On Saturday, police used search-and-rescue teams and canine units to search the park and Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, but found no sign of Bernstein.
Bernstein reportedly left his keys, wallet, credit cards, and glasses behind when he left his parents’ home to see his friend “without saying good-bye — we didn’t even hear him leave,” his father, Gideon Bernstein, told the Los Angeles Times.
Blaze Bernstein is described as white, five foot eight, 130 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a dark-colored jacket, a dark-gray long-sleeved top, and white Adidas sneakers at the time of his disappearance, authorities said.
Family and friends have described the Ivy league sophomore as a good student who was looking forward to flying back to school on Sunday.
Sheriff’s investigators are urging anyone with information about Bernstein’s whereabouts to call (714) 647-7000.
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Main photo: Blaze Bernstein [OCSD]