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County fire captain killed self


A Los Angeles County Fire Department captain whose body was found in a Santa Barbara County canyon nearly a week after he disappeared took his own life, officials confirmed this week.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office posted  this week on its Facebook page that the man found dead on Hot Springs Trail in Montecito on Aug. 18 was Capt. Wayne Stuart Habell, 43, of Newhall, and that the “cause and manner of death is a suicide, by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.’’

Habell’s 2008 black Chrysler Aspen SUV with a Los Angeles County fire department sticker on the back window was found near the trail at 2 p.m. Aug. 17, said Lt. Kevin Huddle of the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s office. Passersby reported a suspicious vehicle had been parked near Hot Springs since Aug. 13 and said a lone male was seen walking along the trail, Huddle said.

Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies, with help from the county’s Air Support Unit and local search-and-rescue team members began an extensive search shortly after receiving the tip, but stopped after it became too dark. The search resumed Aug. 18, and Habell was found about 6 p.m.

Habell was last seen leaving his Newhall home at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 13, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau, who said his family thought he was on his way to a fitness center.

Habell was assigned to the department’s Fire Station 73 in Newhall.

Capt. Adam Clint of Los Angeles County Fire Station 108 in the Santa Clarita Valley, who previously worked with Habell, told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal that Habell’s wife said her husband suffered from depression.