Oakland Couple Go Missing in Peru During Biking Trip
A kidnapping alert has been issued for the Cuzco area, concerning U.S. citizens
A couple from Oakland has been reported missing in Peru, according to a statement by the U.S. State Department.25-year-old Garrett Hand and Jamie Neal were heading for the capital city of Lima, traveling from Cuzco on January 25. It was the last time that their families heard from them, by reading a post on Facebook.
News 10 details that the pair attended Sacramento City College and left for South America on a six-month bike tour, previously traveling through Argentina and Chile.
The San Francisco Gate writes that a kidnapping alert was issued in Cuzco on February 13. While the U.S. Embassy warned Americans of criminal activity in the area at the time, a spokesperson for the State Department clarified that the couple was not targeted.
"At this time, we do not have a link between the two," says Pooja Jhunjhunwala.
Hand's mother Francine Fitzgerald pleas for anyone that can provide information about his whereabouts to come forward.
"We're just very concerned because we haven't heard from Garrett and we want him to come home, now. [...] Somebody knows where they are and we want them to come home safely, and anything anybody can do to help us to get them home safely we appreciate," she says.
She also clarifies that there has been no activity on Garrett's bank account in recent days. He has used the account for the duration of the trip.
According to ABC affiliate KGO-TV, the family initially believed that the couple did not have access to the Internet. They first became concerned when the Embassy revealed the kidnapping threat in the area.
"We see that the U.S. embassy posted a warning to U.S. citizens that there is very substantial evidence of criminal activity, of kidnapping of U.S. citizens in the month of February," Fitzgerald recalls.
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