Just before Christmas, a Los Angeles couple decided to take a weekend camping trip and come home on Christmas morning. But their families were concerned when they never returned.
Olivia Hannah Gonzalez, 20, and Brian Fernandez, 21, along with Fernandez’s two dogs Scooby and Luno, started their 300+ mile journey, much more than the average camper’s 186.7 mile trek, to Big Sur on Dec. 23.
Gonzalez’s sister, Vanessa Guzman, said that her husband received a text from Gonzalez around 11:40 a.m. on the 23rd saying that they were about two hours from their destination. That was the last that anyone had heard from the couple.
A search party was organized to look for the missing couple, but severe rain in Big Sur delayed the efforts.
California Highway Patrol received reports of a vehicle that matched the couple’s car description — a tan 2002 Honda Civic four-door sedan with California plates — at the bottom of the cliff. On Jan. 4, Gonzalez’s body was recovered from the couple’s vehicle, which was found 325 feet down a cliff near Ragged Point, located in San Luis Obispo County.
The body of one of the dogs was also found inside the vehicle. The other dog’s remains were later found.
Monterey County Sherif’s spokesperson, John Thornburg, said that an air and ground search had been conducted along the Big Sur coastline on Dec. 31, but officers could not find any sign of a car running off the side of the cliff.
Brook Todd, Gonzalez’s best friend, said that she’d last spoken to Gonzalez on Dec. 21. Gonzalez said that she and Fernandez had been having problems and arguing over “little things that weren’t necessary.”
Todd said that the couple had been planning a trip to Lake Tahoe for New Year’s Eve, but never mentioned anything about a trip to Big Sur.
Fernandez is still missing, with no signs of whether he is dead or alive.
Any information regarding the whereabouts of Brian Fernandez or the death of Olivia Gonzalez should be reported to Detective M. Palmer of the LAPD’s Missing Persons Unit at 213-996-1800. After-hours or weekend calls should be made to 877-527-3247, or anonymously through the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or www.lacrimestoppers.org.