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Footage Of 19-Year-Old Vanishing Into Fog On Golden Gate Bridge 'Baffles' Family
"You would think if somebody went and crawled up on the rails [of the Golden Gate Bridge] with all those people and bike riders, somebody would have called  ... that never happened," said Scott Dudek, a private investigator hired by missing Sydney West's family.
Footage of the last time a missing teen was seen alive, shot on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on an extremely foggy September morning in 2020, has invigorated her family's convictions that she did not die by suicide and raised further questions for them.
Sydney West, 19, was reported missing by her family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Oct. 1 of that year. The video in question, shot around 6:45 a.m. a day earlier and made hazy by nearby wildfires at the time, was viewed by her family and investigators soon afterward, but has not been publicly released.
"[It was] extremely crowded," private investigator Scott Dudek said, describing the video to Fox News. "It was foggy, but she kind of disappears into the fog."
Before the video was taken, she took a ride share service to Crissy Field, where she often went to work out and take photos. After her disappearance, according to People, her backpack was found on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Dudek told the outlet that police have "given up" investigating West's disappearance, but believes that the video challenges their prevailing "theory" that she took her own life.
"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," he told Fox.
Dudek also noted that a number of people were enjoying the park below the bridge at the time of her disappearance and would have contacted police if they had seen the teen jump.
Kimberly West, the missing teen's mother, echoed Dudek's assertion that a suicide on the bridge would have been noticed by passers-by. "There were a lot of people on that bridge that morning, so that's what continues to baffle us," she told the outlet.
On Sept. 29, the night before her disappearance, West had been in touch with her family, giving every indication that she would call again soon.
Jay West, the girl's father, told KRON 4 that they had spoken for "a couple hours" that day and "talked a lot about loving each other." He said he "fully expected to talk to her the next day."
He reported her missing on Oct. 1 after multiple attempts to contact her went unanswered, according to the Find Sydney West website.
"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," the father told Fox News.
The Golden Gate Bridge has been the site of 1,800 deaths, according to a 2022 piece in the Los Angeles Times.
The San Francisco Police Department wrote in a press release on Oct. 2, 2020 that West was "at risk [for suicide] due to depression," Fox reported.
In a statement to People this week, the department said that West's missing persons case is an open investigation, but, "at this time [they] do not have any evidence that foul play was involved." The department told the outlet that it did not have any further updates on its investigation.
West had much to look forward to, her parents said. She was scheduled to begin her first semester of classes at the University of California, Berkeley in the fall of 2021. West had chosen to delay her scheduled start in the fall of 2020 due to a concussion she sustained that summer and the COVID pandemic forcing coursework online.
"Before she went out there, she was having a really hard time with screen time," West's mother told Fox News. "She wasn't supposed to be doing any screen time, but this was the fall of 2020 and classes were completely virtual. So, everything was on the computer ... and she just said she couldn't do it."
Until then, the teen was living with family friends in the Bay Area and exploring California.
West's family has raised their reward amount to $25,000, up from the $10,000 they offered in February of 2021, for any information that leads to her whereabouts. They have received hundreds of tips in the two-and-a-half years since their daughter disappeared, according to the New York Post, but none have led to their daughter’s recovery.
"That's what we continue to hope — that there was somebody who maybe doesn't even realize they saw something," West's mother told Fox News last week.
Anyone with relevant information is asked to contact Dudek at Dudek.firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (925) 705-8328.