Local News

Sep 21, 2010 9:37 PM by Ariel Wesler

Body of missing Santa Maria man found at Oceano Dunes State Park

The body of a man that washed ashore this morning is believed to be that of a 60-year-old Santa Maria resident reported missing Friday evening.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department says the body was discovered shortly before 7 a.m. at Oceano Dunes State Park.

Ven Hsiao was known to many as Tony. For more than ten years, he owned and operated the Combo Express Chinese Restaurant inside the Santa Maria Town Center Mall. Co-workers and friends exchanged hugs as they learned the fateful news.

"There's definitely gonna be a hole. It's not like a business went out and we need to replace it with someone else. He's been in this mall for as long as I've been in this mall. He's a fixture," said Ken Guge, who owns Leisure Time Games a few doors down.

Neighbors said he was a quiet guy devoted to improving and expanding his business. He had planned to open another Combo Express in the Crossroads Shopping Center.

"He was here practically everyday, so i guess his hobbies and interests was his business," Guge said.

His family told search teams he went fishing at Guadalupe Beach on Friday. When he didn't return that night, they reported him missing. That prompted a massive search operation Saturday. We found Quirino Torres trying to catch some of his own fish.

"Sometimes, I try to walk to the water, but I'm scared a little bit, you know," Torres said, who was surf fishing for the first time.

"It's real dangerous because you can slip on rocks for one because it gets that moss on it," said Fisherman Robert Jurado.

He prefers to fish off local piers, fearing the strong currents.

"You get that undertow that's constantly pushing under your feet and if you're not in good shape, legs can cramp up, and before you know it, you're out there swimming," Jurado said.

An autopsy tomorrow will help determine an exact cause of death, but drowning is suspected.

Combo Express is still open for business. Hsiao's photo has been released. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

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