Paso Robles remembers the disappearance of Kyle Doan on the anniversary

PASO ROBLES — Tuesday marked one year since the disappearance of 5-year-old Kyle Doan. Kyle went missing on Jan. 9, 2023, after he was swept away by floodwaters near San Miguel.

The year anniversary of his disappearance looks a little different as the region has yet to experience the torrential rain that the county received last year. Still, the family continues to look for their son while in the midst of a lawsuit. 

The Disappearance


On Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, Kyle was swept away by floodwaters in San Marcos Creek during a severe stint of winter storms surging through the county. He and his mother, Lindsy Doan, were on their way to school when they were unable to complete their crossing of the San Marcos Creek. 

Following his disappearance, several searches were conducted by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, concerned community members, and outside parties. Unfortunately, those searches all ended up empty-handed.

The Searches

As soon as weather cleared the day after Kyle’s disappearance, Sheriff’s Dive and Search personnel along with California Highway Patrol air operations took to the ground to begin searching for him. Several agencies outside of San Luis Obispo County assisted in the search efforts, including Dive Team members, Search and Rescue Team members, and K9 units from Ventura County and Santa Barbara County. Additionally, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office supplied personnel with sonar equipment to aid in the search. 

On Jan. 11, 2023, the first wave of over 100 National Guard personnel arrived on scene to assist. The next day, even more agencies came to aid in the search from Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Sacramento County, Santa Clara County, and Kern County sheriff’s offices.

Additionally, there were six K9 teams along with members of the California Rescue Dog Association, three Cal Fire hand crews, CHP air operations, Drone Teams from San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and Grover Beach Police Department, and members of the California Office of Emergency Services. Approximately 200 personnel were involved in the search at that time.

Large search efforts with the Sheriff’s continued for about two weeks following Kyle’s initial disappearance, until in February when the county received assistance from the state (California Department of Fish and Wildlife [CDFW], Governor’s Office of Emergency Services [Cal OES]). San Marcos Creek and the Salinas River were again the target search areas.

Again, search efforts came up empty-handed. But another search was initiated by the Sheriff’s office in July 2023 with dry conditions allowing a fresh look.

A Facebook page was created not long after Jan. 9, 2023, named “Bring Kyle Home.” Here, people from all over the world compiled messages of support for the Doans, organized searches, and provided updates. At this point in time, civilians continued to conduct their own private searches in the months following Kyle’s disappearance. While signs of Kyle were never found, belongings from the Doan’s car were. The July search by Sheriff’s unearthed bones belonging to animals and likely Native Americans.

The Lawsuit

In October 2023, the Doan family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the County of San Luis Obispo, the City of Paso Robles, and Caltrans. 

The lawsuit, filed on Oct. 4, alleges negligence, dangerous conditions of public property, failure to warn, wrongful death, survival action, and bystander recovery of emotional distress against the defendants. The court documents obtained by Paso Robles Press/Atascadero News assert that the defendants are responsible for various acts, including negligence, willful misconduct, strict liability, design defects, dangerous conditions, and infliction of emotional distress.

The incident details state that Lindsy drove her SUV across the San Marcos and Wellsona Road crossing, not observing any road closure signs, leading to the vehicle being swept away until it hit a tree. Lindsy, holding onto the tree, managed to pull Kyle out with her other hand, but her arm became overextended, resulting in Kyle being swept away. Lindsy screamed for help and was rescued by local residents. The lawsuit focuses on the day of the incident and does not cover community efforts to find Kyle after Jan. 9. 

Paso Robles Press / Atascadero News reached out to the City of Paso Robles for any developments in the suit. City Manager Ty Lewis informed us that claim has been turned over to the city’s legal team and he is unaware of any movement in it. 

We also reached out to Kyle’s father, Brian Doan who replied with the following statement:

The last year has been hurtful and empty without Kyle. We are still struggling to find him given the challenges of the area and bureaucracy. We are hoping a drone team from Utah will be here in January to map out the creek and river path he could have taken. Getting a K9 team to search for us is difficult because of the politics, and the Sherriff still control the official search, which they haven’t said anything to us since late July. We still haven’t been given answers as to why storm protocols were not enforced for the north county roads and schools before January 9, [2023] and that is the next step.

This is a developing story that will be updated as more information becomes available.