As relatives of a young couple missing since last week fear the worst, authorities worked Wednesday to recover two bodies found in a vehicle that rolled off a winding mountain roadway and plummeted over a steep cliff in the Angeles National Forest.
The vehicle, spotted Tuesday with the help of a drone being operated by a volunteer helping with the search effort, is a 2007 Isuzu Ascender, sheriff’s department spokeswoman Eva Jimenez told City News Service. That’s the same make and model as the vehicle Ethan Manzano and Sophie Rayanne Edwards, both 19, were in when they disappeared last Thursday.
Sheriff’s officials said the vehicle was spotted at about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday near mile marker 72 of the Angeles Crest Highway, near Dawson Saddle Trail. Chad Keel, a Wrightwood resident who was helping search for the missing couple, told reporters he was operating the drone that spotted the wreckage, and volunteers contacted the sheriff’s department.
Some of the couple’s belongings were also spotted near the crashed vehicle, which was found about 1,300 to 1,500 feet below the roadway, partially obscured by brush. Two bodies are inside the vehicle, but they have not been positively identified.
Friends and relatives, however, fear the worst.
“I can’t believe I’m going to be burying my son. He was only 19,” Manzano’s father, Al, told reporters.
Ethan Manzano and Edwards, his girlfriend, were visiting friends in the Newcombs Ranch area but left around 1:30 a.m. Thursday to drive home to Apple Valley. They never arrived. The couple were planning to move to Colorado over the Fourth of July weekend.
Investigators speculate that the vehicle’s driver veered off the winding roadway, sending the vehicle careening down the hillside.
The California Highway Patrol was overseeing the recovery effort, with help from the Los Angeles County fire and sheriff’s department.