Sydney West's family 'baffled' by her 2020 disappearance in California
Sydney West, a 19-year-old University of California, Berkeley, student from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, went missing from the Golden Gate Bridge on the morning of Sept. 30, 2020.
Some have jumped to conclusions about West's disappearance from that fact alone, but her family and a California private investigator are still "baffled" and hopeful three years later, particularly after seeing video footage of West on the bridge that morning.
"First off, it was 6:45, roughly, in the morning. Extremely crowded. It was foggy, but she kind of disappears into the fog," private investigator Scott Dudek told Fox News Digital of the video footage. "You would think if somebody went and crawled up on the rails with all those people and bike riders, somebody would have either called, which, that never happened, or somebody would have tried to talk to her and try to come forward with all that publicity, and that never happened."
"I know the police kind of have given up on it because that is their theory behind it," he continued.
Dudek added that not only was the bridge crowded with pedestrians that morning, including West, who enjoyed frequent walks along the iconic landmark, but there were also bird-watchers, photographers and athletes taking part in activities at a park below the bridge.
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The footage, which is not public and rarely viewed by anyone other than bridge officials, also shows fog rolling over the bridge combined with smoke from nearby wildfires that eventually obscure any view of West's last known location.
Kimberly West, Sydney's mother, says the video still perplexes her.
"There were a lot of people on the bridge that morning, so that's what continues to baffle us," West said.
Sydney West, a Cal college student from North Carolina, went missing near the Golden Gate Bridge in 2020. Photo: FindSydneyWest.com
The West family had previously lived in California before they moved to North Carolina. Sydney moved back for her first year at UC Berkeley, but due to a serious concussion from a summer lake mishap in North Carolina and classes moving fully online in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she had deferred until the fall 2021 semester and was staying with family friends in the Bay Area in the meantime.
"Before she went out there, she was having a really hard time with screen time. She wasn't supposed to be doing any screen time, but this was the fall of 2020, and classes were completely virtual," West said. "So, everything was on the computer … and she just she said she couldn't do it."
The 19-year-old had felt isolated and lonely after the switch to virtual classes that fall. SFPD said in a 2020 press release that West was "at risk due to depression," but her family believes there is more to the story.
Sydney and her father spoke on the phone the night before she went missing, and he had every reason to believe she would call again soon.
"Lots of people have been like, ‘Well, it’s obvious what happened. She was on the Golden Gate Bridge,' but … her being my daughter and knowing how she feels about her sister and about her family and all of the things that she was looking forward to and … all the things that she would get to experience ... I just find it [hard to believe] she would just leave all of that."
Sydney is well-rounded, according to her mother. She has an interest in science, as well as art and music. She likes traveling, learning and was interested in sports, West said.
Dudek and the West family have received numerous tips, but none have panned out. They both thanked those who have reached out about Sydney's disappearance and offered their help.
West's family is offering a $25,000 reward for any information leading to her whereabouts.
She is 5 ft., 10 in., weighing around 130 lbs., and was last seen wearing dark leggings, a light teal hoodie, and Vans sneakers with a tropical print on them. She was wearing her hair in a bun.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Scott Dudek at (925) 705-8328 or Dudek.firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about Sydney and her disappearance can be found at findsydneywest.com.