In an effort to encourage more people to help search for missing 15-year-old Sierra LaMar, Morgan Hill filmmaker Brian Garcia recently produced a two-part documentary highlighting the volunteer search efforts.
To produce the films, which run under five minutes each, Garcia joins volunteers who meet at Burnett Elementary School on scheduled search efforts, and interviews those he says are making significant sacrifices in their own lives to search for the missing Sobrato High School sophomore.
The footage shows volunteers sweeping remote golden hillsides for evidence of Sierra’s whereabouts, preparing to go out into the field at Burnett Elementary and assisting with records and supplies at the search center.
“I want to let everybody know what’s been going so people can see (the volunteers’) motivation, and I’m hoping people will also be motivated to come help,” said Garcia, 29, who lives in Daly City but is a graduate of Live Oak High School.
He added he learned a lot from the volunteers in the process of making the documentary, which is titled “Help Us Find Sierra LaMar.”
“There’s so many people out there that don’t even know this girl, but they heard she was abducted,” Garcia said. “And I learned there’s so many good hearts out there.”
The film is posted on youtube.com in two parts. The first part was posted in late June, and the second part was posted Monday.
Sierra has been missing from her north Morgan Hill home since March 16. Police think she was abducted while walking to her school bus stop near the intersection of Palm and Dougherty avenues.
Arrested in May was Antolin Garcia Torres, 21 of Morgan Hill, who is suspected of kidnapping and killing Sierra. Garcia Torres has not entered a plea to the charge.
Investigators from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office have not found Sierra’s remains, nor have they reported finding any physical evidence that strongly suggests she is dead.
Volunteers organized through Sierra’s family and the KlaasKids Foundation have conducted ongoing search efforts every Wednesday and Saturday since late March.
While the initial searches drew close to 1,000 volunteers some days, lately the number has dwindled to less than 100 sometimes, according to volunteers.
“We could use more volunteers,” said Garcia. “I hear from people who drive every Wednesday and Saturday from the San Francisco area. People realize it could have happened to any of their girls, and they would want people to do the same for them.”
Garcia studied film making at San Diego State University, where he won a regional Emmy award for a narrative film about a girl who was molested by a male relative, he said.
He is still studying, as he just finished his first year of a Master’s of Fine Arts program at San Francisco State University.
Garcia said most of his films are about social issues evolving around troubled or mistreated children in order to raise awareness.
Sierra’s family is offering a $35,000 reward for anyone who provides information about Sierra’s whereabouts.
Another volunteer search is scheduled for Saturday. Anyone interested can participate by showing up at Burnett Elementary School, 85 Tilton Ave., between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.