“We want her back.”
That’s the simple message Crystal Ashworth’s friends and family want to convey.
Ashworth walked out the back door of Uncle Sonny’s bar just before 8 p.m. Sunday and disappeared.
So it was from Uncle Sonny’s, at the Cedar Ridge Y, that about 50 searchers chose to assemble Wednesday afternoon.
“Right now we’re just trying to coordinate, so we don’t exhaust our resources too soon,” said Ashworth’s sister, Linda Farlowe.
“We can’t be all helter-skelter,” Farlowe told the crowd that showed up to help look for Ashworth. “Where have you already looked? What have you already done?”
Many of those present said they already had driven and walked likely routes between the Highway 174 bar and Hughes Road in Grass Valley, where Ashworth was headed that night.
She was supposed to spend the night with friend Debbi Best, who was going to drive her to Sacramento Monday for a scheduled surgery on her hand.
“She was coming over because we had heat and power and water,” Best said, adding that she talked to Ashworth on the phone around 6:20 p.m. and she said she would be there at 8 p.m.
The alternate plan was for Best to pick her up in the morning. Best, assuming Ashworth had changed her mind, drove over to her friend’s house around 9:15 a.m.
“She wasn’t there,” Best said, adding, “There’s no way in the world she would have missed that surgery. She had been working on getting that fixed for a year.”
Best and Farlowe agreed that it was out of character for Ashworth to not be in touch, but all calls made to her since Sunday have gone straight to voice mail.
“Crystal would pick up a hitchhiker,” Farlowe speculated. “If someone walked up to her truck and said they needed a lift, she’d say, ‘Get in.’”
Nevada County Sheriff’s Detective Andrew Liller attended the search party gathering, along with Lt. Rob Bringolf.
“We are treating this as a suspicious missing persons case, because no questions have been answered,” Bringolf said. “We are taking extra precautions and assigning a detective.”
A California Highway Patrol helicopter was requested and flew the Highway 174 corridor Wednesday, he said, adding that he personally drove — and walked parts — of the route Ashworth could have taken.
“We haven’t found anything,” Bringolf said.
According to Bringolf, because there is no evidence of a crime at this point, it has been more difficult to obtain search warrants for Ashworth’s cell phone and financial records.
“This is outside her behavior pattern,” he acknowledged.
Bringolf urged searchers to stay in contact with Liller, adding. “We’re happy to see such a huge turnout.”
Ashworth, 63, is 5-feet tall, with silver hair and brown eyes. She’s full-figured, weighing about 155 pounds, and was last seen wearing a long-sleeved teal Harley Davidson T-shirt, blue jeans, black motorcycle boots and a gray sleeveless zip-up hoodie. Her truck is a white 2004 Nissan Frontier four-door pickup with a rack and a Harley Davidson sticker in the back window. The license plate number is 7M67913.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email [email protected] or call 530-477-4236.