Seven months later and the search continues for former Pleasanton resident Sydney "Syd" West, whose family (despite the length of her disappearance) remains hopeful and has increased the reward for her safe return to $25,000.
In addition to more than doubling the financial reward for information that leads to the return of the former Foothill High School student, the West family has stepped up their media campaign to include a new billboard and website that will help direct the community at-large to information on the teenager's case.
"The first reward generated a lot of tips for Scott Dudek, our private investigator, but none of them have brought Sydney back to us. So that is why we are continuing with the reward and increasing it," Jay West said in a recent video announcing the increased reward. "We have a burning desire to bring our daughter home. We miss her every moment of every day, so please help."
"We hope that this time the right tip is going to come in and help us find Sydney," added Kimberly West, Sydney's mother. "We continue to be so grateful for all of the support that we have received."
San Francisco Police Department Sgt. Michael Andraychak said that the case remains under investigation by the department's Missing Persons Unit and that investigators are in frequent contact with her family, which used to live in Pleasanton before relocating to North Carolina. As of Monday, there have been no updates about her whereabouts.
A student at the University of California at Berkeley, 19-year-old West was last seen near the Golden Gate Bridge in the area of Crissy Field in San Francisco during the early-morning hours on Sept. 30. She was considered to be at-risk due to anxiety and depression, according to authorities.
She was very close with the rest of her family and had a lengthy phone conversation with her dad on the evening of Sept. 29. according to her family. Jay West said that he had fully expected to speak with her the next day and became increasingly worried when she did not return multiple calls from him the next day.
Family said she enjoyed the area around the Golden Gate Bridge and it was not unlike her to go there to take pictures and go for a walk or run.
Video footage from on and around the bridge on Sept. 30 has been carefully reviewed by investigators; however, due to foggy and smoky conditions, camera views were obstructed making it impossible to tell her exact location on the bridge.
The family did add that the bridge was busy with walkers, joggers, cyclists and commuters who may have seen something that morning.
It is also documented that she had taken a rideshare service to the area on the morning she disappeared, according to the family, who added that the driver was fully cooperative and helpful with police and is not a suspect in her disappearance.
Family added that there has been no activity on any of Syd West's phone, bank, credit card or social media accounts since her disappearance.
Syd West is described as white, 5-foot-10-inches tall and weighing 130-135 pounds, with blue eyes and light-brown hair (worn in a bun on the top of her head that morning). She was last seen on Sept. 30 wearing black leggings, a teal hoodie and her favorite old slip-on Vans (dark green and black print). She may have been carrying a black backpack and may or may not have been wearing corrective eye glasses.
According to her great-aunt Amy Weiss, who also serves as the family's media representative, Dudek continues to receive tips regularly and follows up on each one received. Dudek stresses that any tip or lead can prove to be helpful and encourages residents to come forward with any information they may have, whether or not they believe it is important.
In an effort to increase the case's visibility, the West family has since increased the reward from $10,000 to the current $25,000 level, which will be available to anyone with information that leads to the family being reunited and is available for collection until the offer expires on July 1.
The family has also rented a large digital billboard with Syd West's likeness and information on her disappearance, which was initially located in Hayward on the Interstate 580 and is now in Berkeley near the university exit in a prime stop-and-go commuter location.
Residents can also learn more about Syd West's disappearance on the newly set up website www.findsydneywest.com.
The family has asked residents interested in helping by sharing stories of Syd West's disappearance on social media, printing and posting flyers from the aforementioned website and sharing any tips or potential information with private investigator Scott Dudek at 925-705-8328 or [email protected]
Syd West returned to the Bay Area for college after her family moved from Pleasanton to North Carolina several years ago. Those with connections to the family in North Carolina can also contact their hometown sheriff's office at 919-245-2909.
To follow updates on the case on social media, visit the Find Sydney West Facebook page, follow on Instagram at find_sydney_west or use the hashtag #FindSydneyWest.