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California surfer missing in Bali blast

Friends searching hospitals, morgues before returning to U.S.

From Thelma Gutierrez
CNN

Californian Steve Webster was in the Sari Club at the time of the bombing.
Californian Steve Webster was in the Sari Club at the time of the bombing.

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (CNN) -- An avid surfer, he headed off to paradise in the Pacific a couple of weeks ago to celebrate his 41st birthday with two good friends -- at his wife's urging.

Now, Steve Webster is among the missing in the terrorist bombings in Bali. His wife, Mona, and children said they are holding out hope he may be bandaged up, possibly unconscious, unable to ask doctors to tell his family that he's all right.

"If anybody survives this, it would be him," said friend Nick Yuschenkoff, who is holding vigil with Webster's family in Huntington Beach.

Webster's house is in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of the beach. Every day for lunch, Webster, owner of an environmental consulting company with his wife of six years, has gone surfing.

He already had surfed exotic locales, including Fiji, Puerto Rico and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He had been working hard recently, his wife said, so she urged him to take the birthday trip to Bali with two friends. They were to return Wednesday.

On Saturday night, Webster and one of his friends, Steve Cabler, went to the Sari Club on Bali's Kuta Beach, popular with surfers. The third man, John Parodi Jr., didn't feel well and stayed in the hotel.

As Cabler has described it, the two men were at the bar when they heard a loud blast. The friends looked at each other, wondering what the noise was, and then Cabler ran.

When he had gotten a few feet away, he looked back only to see the roof crumbling down on his friend. There has been no word from Webster since then.

Family and friends are devastated, Mona Webster told CNN in an off-camera interview. She said she has sent her husband e-mails since the blasts, on the off chance he'll respond.

The last time the family heard from Webster was in an e-mail in which he said he couldn't wait to get home. "I wish I could go home today," he wrote. Mona Webster said she had been planning a big welcome-home party for him.

On Bali, Cabler and Parodi have been checking hospitals and morgues in search of their friend.

But with the U.S. State Department urging Americans to leave Indonesia because of increased security concerns, the two men said they are reluctantly heading home.



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