Missing California Cyclists Found on Boat, Family Doesn't Trust Sighting

The Oakland couple has reportedly been spotted traveling on a boat to Ecuador

By on February 27th, 2013 14:39 GMT

A missing couple from Oakland has been spotted leaving Peru and getting on a boat to Ecuador, reports say.

As we informed you yesterday, Garrett Hand and his girlfriend, Jamie Neal have neither had contact with their families nor posted on their social media accounts since January 25.

Hand has not accessed his bank account since then. His mother, Francine Fitzgerald, became worried when the U.S. Embassy posted a message warning American tourists to stay away from the Cusco and Machu Picchu areas, issuing a kidnapping alert.

"The Embassy has received information that members of a criminal organization may be planning to kidnap U.S. citizen tourists in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area," the message reads.

According to Peruvian authorities, the tourists have been spotted in the Angoteros village on the Napo River on Tuesday, February 26.

Mercury News reports that they were traveling with an Italian tourist in a wooden boat which locals call a "peque-peque." The boat was being driven by a resident by the name of Reynaldo Vega.

However, Fitzgerald has not heard from her son directly, and does not trust the sighting. She demands a proof in the form of a telephone call and a photo of him holding up a poster she made to find him.

"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.

"Let me reiterate, until we have PROOF OF LIFE, we cannot celebrate these rumors and sightings. Proof of life is my son's voice on the phone and a picture of him holding the missing poster," she wrote on Facebook.

According to Peruvian Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism José Luis Silva Martinot, the pair will be able to contact her in Cabo Pantoja, which connects Peru to Ecuador.

"Tomorrow we will send an airplane to meet them and tell them 'Please go home now' so the family can know they're OK. [...] The problem is right now they are in the middle of the jungle, in the middle of nowhere, and are going against the river," Martinot says.

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