Search underway for couple missing in Joshua Tree

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JOSHUA TREE, Calif. - A car belonging to a couple reported missing after going on a hike in Joshua Tree National Park has been recovered, authorities said Monday.

Search and rescue crews were out Monday amid intense heat looking for Rachel Nguyen and Joseph Orbeso, who were hiking in the area on Thursday and reported missing the following day, according to the National Park Service.

Photos of a couple who went missing in Joshua Tree National Park are shown at the command post on July 31, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

The last sign of the couple was a ping on the man's cellphone recorded about 4 p.m. Thursday, the release stated. It is believed they went missing sometime after 6 a.m. Friday, according to a post on the Joshua Tree Search & Rescue Facebook page.

A burgundy Lexus was found at 4 p.m. Friday near the Maze Loop, located at the park's west entrance, KTLA reported.  Trackers processed the tracks near the vehicle and determined the missing couple was headed north into a canyon.

Family members said the pair were experienced hikers. Nguyen's uncle said the couple planned a trip to the national park to celebrate Nguyen's birthday, KTLA reported.  The young couple was staying at an Airbnb, and the property's owner reported them missing when they failed to check out as scheduled on Friday, the uncle said.

Sixty to 100 searchers are working on and off the trail in the park in one of the largest searches in Joshua Tree in several years, said George Land, a ranger and spokesman for the park.

Anyone who has seen or had possible contact with either of them is urged to call 760-831-7633 or Park Dispatch at 909-363-5651.


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