Olivia Hannah Gonzalez and Brian Fernandez.
Olivia Hannah Gonzalez and Brian Fernandez.

Authorities in San Luis Obispo County Friday recovered the car of a North Hollywood couple who went missing on a pre- Christmas road trip to Big Sur, and the vehicle was taken to a secure facility to be processed for evidence.

Olivia Hannah Gonzalez, 20, and Brian Fernandez, 21, left Dec. 23 with their two dogs for a weekend trip and were expected home on Christmas Day, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

On Tuesday, the Honda Civic the couple took on their trip was found over the side of Pacific Coast Highway, and the woman’s body was found nearby, along with the remains of one of the dogs, a light brown Labrador retriever mix. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department reported at midday Thursday that the remains of the couple’s other dog had been found, as well, but Fernandez remains missing.

Firefighters were called about 3:35 p.m. Tuesday to the crash scene south of Ragged Point in the San Simeon area, which was spotted by a helicopter crew, said Tony Cipolla of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department. Gonzalez’s body was recovered by rescue crews Tuesday night and positively identified on Wednesday afternoon.

She and one of the dogs were found about 15 feet from the car, which was about 325 feet over the side of PCH, California Highway Patrol Officer Patrick Seebart said.

Cipolla said the vehicle was found right at the surfline and Fernandez’ body could have been ejected into the ocean, so sheriff’s dive teams searched the water while search-and-rescue teams traversed steep, rocky terrain.

After daybreak Thursday, crews began the arduous effort to recover the car and determine if Fernandez’ body was at the scene, the CHP reported.

The car was recovered Friday, and it was taken to a secure facility where it will be processed by investigators from the CHP the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, Seebart said.

A second body has not been located, but the search was continuing, Seebart said. Sheriff’s detectives were looking for clues as to what happened, although no conclusions have been reached, Cipolla said.

Gonzalez’s grieving sister, Vanessa, told KNX Newsradio that she set up a gofundme account to help the family with funeral expenses.


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