Two Americans who seemed to have vanished in Peru, touching off much fear among relatives and friends plus a search by Peruvian and U.S. authorities, have been found in a remote area of the Amazon, according to a friend of theirs who has been helping with the search.
“We have very few details at the moment, but we’ve just gotten confirmation from the (U.S.) State Department that they were spotted in a remote region along the Amazon, and that they are going to be picked up,” said Max Hunter, of Oakland, Calif., in an email Tuesday afternoon.
Family and friends had feared the worst since the young couple, 25-year-old Garrett Hand and 27-year-old Jamie Neal of California’s Bay Area, had not been heard from since Jan. 25 and their credit-card usage had abruptly stopped. Until then they had kept in regular contact and updated their Facebook pages daily while bicycle touring in Peru, Hunter said earlier.
Francine Fitzgerald, the mother of Garrett Hand, issued a statement on Tuesday: “We have received phone calls from the U.S. Embassy and Peruvian government that my son Garrett Hand and his girlfriend Jamie Neal have been spotted in a remote village in Peru. The information told to me is that they are on a boat on the river and that they are sending a plane to find them. I am told to expect information by tomorrow sometime,” said Fitzgerald.
“While I appreciate the extraordinary efforts of the media, the U.S. and Peruvian governments, until I hear from and see my son directly, we will not stop. This young couple is someone’s son and brother, someone’s daughter and sister and United States citizens. We have not heard from them since January 25, nor have they accessed bank accounts since that time. We have only the worst to consider as to why. Thank you those of you who are helping – friends, family, reporters, officials – and our task is done when Garrett and Jamie are home and safe,” said Fitzgerald.
It’s unclear at this point if the two Americans had some trouble or were simply traveling in a very remote area and unable to communicate. If the later, there’s one take-away from such an event for adventurous travelers: Phone home (or these days use social media) to let someone know before you go off the grid.