Sheriff's detectives and family members of a 19- year-old college student who went missing Tuesday night in the Foothill Ranch area of Lake Forest asked for the public's help Saturday to find him.
Blaze N. Bernstein, who was visiting with family on winter break from the University of Pennsylvania, went to Borrego Park that night to meet someone for unknown reasons, said Annee Della Donna, an attorney and friend of the family. At 9:30 p.m., he sent a text message with his family's Lake Forest address for a high school buddy to pick him up and take him to the park to meet the third person, she said.
The park is five minutes away and they got there at 10:30 p.m., the attorney said. Bernstein went off alone into the park while his friend waited back in the car, the attorney said.
Bernstein's friend eventually began sending text messages to him when he didn't return, but did not hear back from him, she said. The friend left and then returned at 4 a.m. to look for Bernstein again.
Eventually, the location device on Bernstein's phone stopped functioning and the phone was turned off at 11:30 p.m., Della Donna said.
"He didn't have anything with him," she said. "He didn't have his glasses or his medication. He didn't bring his wallet or a phone charger. I don't think he planned on this being a long trip and he just disappeared."
Witnesses say they saw someone matching Bernstein's height and weight walking along the southbound lanes of the 241 toll road in the disabled car lane at 5:40 a.m. Wednesday, Della Donna said.
There was no evidence he was despondent in any way, the attorney said.
"He made dinner for the family that night," she said. "They had a great evening together. He was excited about going back to college and he was moving to a new apartment. He was on the Internet that night buying things. It all points to a kid who was not depressed, who was happy and wanted to go back to school."
Gideon Bernstein told City News Service he hadn't noticed anything amiss with his son, who he said "loves cooking."
"He recently became managing editor of the foodie magazine at the University of Pennsylvania, called Penn Appetit," he said. "So, he was very excited about that. He was working on that over the winter break and showed us the magazine they just published, which he significantly contributed to."
He said his son is a sophomore planning to declare a major in psychology with a minor in chemistry and "pursuing it with a pre-med focus."
"He was having a good time with us and in good spirits," he said, adding that his son's grandparents joined them for dinner.
"After dinner, everyone took off and as far as we knew, he was up in his room," he said. "We didn't even really know he was gone until the next day. We figured he slept in."
The father said that when his son failed to show for a dental appointment, the family became concerned and came to realize he was missing.
Bernstein has blue eyes, brown hair, is 5-foot-8 and weighs 130 pounds. He was wearing a dark-colored jacket, dark gray long-sleeved zip-up and white Adidas shoes when last seen.
Anyone with information was asked to call (714) 647-7000. Orange County Crime Stoppers will accept anonymous tips at (855) TIP-OCCS.