Blaze Bernstein

College student goes to park restroom, disappears ‘five minutes from home’

California authorities are searching for a 19-year-old college student who suddenly disappeared while home on winter break, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Investigators say Blaze Bernstein, a University of Pennsylvania student studying pre-med, didn’t return to his parents’ home south of Los Angeles Tuesday night after going to a park with a friend. The friend told police that he went into a restroom at the park and that Bernstein was gone when he came out, according to Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“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,” Braun said.

Search teams and canine units on Saturday scoured the park, which is near a canyon, for any sign of Bernstein, including his cellphone. The phone would not accept calls, the newspaper reports.

“We’re doing everything we can to find Blaze and bring him home,” said Lt. Brad Valentine. “We’re hoping he’s, perhaps, incapacitated and in need of medical attention.”

He added: “It’s going to be a slow, tedious search as we get out there and beat the bushes for any sign of him.”

Bernstein is said to have left numerous personal items at home, such as his glasses, keys and wallet. His parents said he hadn’t even said goodbye.

“We didn’t even hear him leave,” his father, Gideon Bernstein, told the Times. “Blaze left the house around 10:30 p.m. or so, but exactly why he left is a big mystery.”

Volunteers turned out on Saturday to help in the search effort, including family friends Katherine and John Coster.

“We run in the canyon quite often, so we know it well,” Katherine Coster said. “We’re still hopeful, all of us.”

Blaze Bernstein was scheduled to return to Pennsylvania on Sunday for the spring semester. Before he left home Tuesday night, Bernstein had communicated with a friend using social media apps that didn’t leave records of conversations, police say.

Bernstein is white, about 130 pounds, 5 feet 8 and has brown hair and blue eyes. At the time he disappeared, Bernstein had a dark jacket on with a gray shirt and white Adidas shoes.

“There are so many unknowns to deal with,” family friend Annee Della Donna said. “We’re talking about a brilliant kid who goes to a small park five minutes from home, then disappears.”

Call investigators at 714-647-7000 to report information about the case.

[Feature Photo: Blaze Bernstein/Facebook]