Angeles National Forest

Burned Car Found Off Angeles National Forest Road During Search for Missing Couple

Search teams found the bodies while searching for a missing couple believed last seen in the Angeles National Forest.

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Search teams were expected Wednesday morning to recover two bodies that were found inside a burned car more than a 1,000 feet over the edge of a mountain road off Angeles Crest Highway.

The team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Search & Rescue were prepared to rappel off California Highway 2 to get to the mangled vehicle.

Searchers who found the vehicle were scouring the area where 19-year-olds Sophia Edwards and Ethan Manzano were last seen. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Wednesday confirmed that the car belonging to the teen couple reported missing in the Angeles National Forest.

The department was awaiting confirmation from the coroner on the identity
of two bodies found inside the wreckage.

Families who were also out searching the area feared the worst.

"I can't believe I’m going to be burying my son. He was only 19," said Al Manzano, Ethan's father.

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The couple, from Apple Valley, have been missing since Thursday. Investigators spent the day searching the mountains near Dawson Saddle Trail.

Investigators say the couple was last seen early Thursday near Newcombs Ranch in the Angeles National Forest, where they were visiting friends. They left their friend's home around 1:30 a.m., making the drive home along the windy Angeles Crest.

"The friends said their demeanor was normal, nothing out of character for them," said Detective Matthew Pereida with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Missing Persons Unit. "They were an affectionate couple. They had a great time."

Sophia Edwards' father says the couple planned to move to Colorado over the weekend, but no one has heard from them.

"I was going to go Friday morning and load up their furniture in my truck and caravan to Colorado on Saturday morning," said Jeremy Edwards, her father. "They seemed excited about the idea. They had friends in Colorado they were planning on moving in with."

Investigators narrowed their search around Dawson Saddle Trail, about an hour and 45 minutes from Newcombs Ranch because that's the last place the couple's cell phone was tracked.

Rescue teams worry the couple, driving a silver 2007 Isuzu Ascender, may have accidentally driven off the winding mountain road, which drops hundreds of feet into deep, rugged ravines.

"You're surrounded by trees and other things that cover what you can see with the naked eye," Pereida said. "There are some areas that have guard rails but the area around Dawson Saddle didn't have any guard rails."

Anyone with information of their whereabouts was asked to call the LASD's Missing Persons unit at 323-890-5500 or 911. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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