Kidnapped, hurt, or worse, a Fresno family can only wait and pray as the search for this young couple continues in Peru. Since November of 2012, 25-year old Garrett Hand and his girlfriend 27-year-oldMore >>
Kidnapped, hurt, or worse, a Fresno family can only wait and pray as the search for this young couple continues in Peru.More >>
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KMPH) -
Garrett Hand and his girlfriend Jamie Neal disappeared while on a bike tour in South America.
Hand and Neal, both 25, were last heard from on Jan. 25. The couple were planning on traveling from Cusco to Lima, Peru, when their families lost contact with them.
KMPH spoke with Hand's mother and sister this week. Both say the couple boarded a bus in Peru about a month ago, but after that, they disappeared.
The couple left their Bay Area home in November for a once-in-a lifetime bike trek through South America.
Although miles away from home, they were never more than a computer away from family.
Now that same family that extends from Fresno to Concord in the Bay Area is anxiously waiting for any news.
"I keep going. I start at 4 in the morning," said Hand's mother, Francine Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald has set up her living room to serve as a makeshift headquarters. She has detailed everyone whom the couple had met along their tip; she has kept a detailed log of the facts that are coming in and she noted any discrepancies in the story.
Fitzgerald said the family was excited to follow their journey, which began on Thanksgiving Day, on Facebook and see the people they met.
But all communication--which mainly came through Facebook and emails--stopped on Jan. 25. All financial transactions stopped too, she said.
Lizz Sather, Hand's older sister who lives in Fresno, said when the couple told the family about their desire to bike through South America, everyone was concerned for their safety.
"They wanted to know the people of South America and go to places they went," Sather said. "If those were unsafe for a tourist but safe for the people of south America, they were going to do it."
The couple began their journey around thanksgiving in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Then they traveled through the mountains to Chile, and then to Cusco, Peru, where they disappeared.
The U.S. Embassy in Peru put out a security message, warning Americans that kidnapping threats are in effect.
Fitzgerald just want her son and his girlfriend to return safely.
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