SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, California — Searchers believe a trail of car parts and a white object submerged in a raging California river may lead them to a second couple believed missing in a remote national park, officials said Monday.
Yinan Wang, 31, and his wife Jie Song, 30, of San Diego were last seen Aug. 6 in Sequoia National Park.
Searchers identifying a license plate fear they may be in the same stretch of river 500 feet down a river gorge where they’re struggling to recover the remains of two people discovered in a car lodged on a rock.
Wang and Song had planned to drive to Fresno that night, stay in a hotel and continue on to Yosemite National Park the next day. They were scheduled to return home to San Diego on Aug. 9, but they never made it.
A break in the search came when a Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy watching local television coverage of a different recovery effort of two Thai students in the park’s Kings River spotted a California license plate in the brush.
The deputy knew the plate did not belong to the Thai student’s car that plunged into the river in late July. A records check showed it is registered to a white Ford Focus driven by Wang and Song.
The California Highway Patrol with the assistance of the searchers from the Fresno County Sheriff’s office responded to the location and saw a large white object below the water line, in the turbulent white waters downstream from the location of the July crash. It has not been determined if it is the missing couple’s car.
California and Thai consulate officials haven’t identified the Thai students. But Thailand’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks told media that Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, 24, and her male friend Pakkapol Chairattanasongporn, 28, also known as Golf, were driving along Highway 180 when their car went off a cliff. They had been enrolled at the University of South Florida.
No bodies have been found.
To the south, two hikers found dead in the Mojave Desert have been identified as a couple from Southern California.
Gen Miake, 60, and Kathie Barber, 58, were discovered Saturday near Amboy Crater, an extinct cinder cone volcano, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Barber called 911 to say she’d become separated from Miake and was out of water, The Orange County Register reported. A helicopter crew spotted the bodies a short time later.
The couple was from Yorba Linda, in Orange County.
Daytime temperatures in the area regularly top 100 degrees during summer months.
The crater, which rises above a wide, barren lava field, is popular among desert hikers despite the scorching heat.
Also Saturday, authorities recovered the body of a missing High Sierra climber in the Inyo National Forest.
Rescue personnel found the remains of a climber Saturday near the base of Thunderbolt Peak, on the Inyo National Forest side of the border with Kings Canyon National Park, the Fresno Bee reported.
Confirmation of the identity of the body is pending. However, the park service said the body is believed to be that of Thomas Fennessy, who was last seen Wednesday at Sam Mack Meadow in Inyo National Forest.
Fennessy’s goal was to complete the Thunderbolt Peak to Mount Sill Traverse, which is the border between Inyo National Forest and Kings Canyon National Park.