Body Found in Anza-Borrego Desert

The family of hiker Guillermo Pino, Jr., missing since April 8, believes they may have found his body

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Artie Ojeda
    Deputies tape off the area and keep reporters away from the scene.

    Search efforts were suspended in the mud caves of the Anza-Borrego desert after a body was reportedly found approximately 50 to 60-feet below ground on Saturday.

    According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, the family of missing hiker Guillermo Pino, Jr., made the discovery just after 5 p.m. on May 5.

    Body Found in Anza-Borrego Desert

    [DGO] Body Found in Anza-Borrego Desert
    A body has been found in the Anza-Borrego desert. The family of hiker Guillermo Pino, missing since Apr. 8, believes it's him. Authorities are investigating. NBC 7's Brandi Powell reports. (Published Sunday, May 6, 2012)

    Monday evening, the family suspended their search efforts after a mine rescue team told them the conditions were too dangerous to continue. They hope to continue their recovery efforts Tuesday morning.

    On Saturday, the family lowered a camera into the mud caves at the Anza-Borrego desert. The family said that when they brought the camera back up, the video showed what appeared to be Pino’s body.

    The family said they could make out parts of Pino’s face and his clothing.

    Pino, 24, has been missing since April 8.

    Hiker Missing Near Mud Caves

    [DGO] Hiker Missing Near Mud Caves
    About 50 to 60 people with various law enforcement agencies have been looking for Guillermo Pino in an area described as extremely rugged with ravines, washes, mud caves and loose dirt and rocks. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus spoke with the man's father Guillermo Pino, Sr and Don Parker with the San Diego County Sheriff's Search and Rescue. (Published Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012)

    He disappeared while exploring the caves in an Anza-Borrego area called Arroyo Tapiado. At the time, he was hiking with his sister, brother-in-law and two friends.

    Pino, described as a fairly experienced hiker, was last seen by his sister, Michelle Pino-Knaak, sitting on a ledge at the top of a cave. His hiking group went to cool off inside one of the caves and when they came out about 15 minutes later, Pino had vanished from the ledge.

    Since then, deputies and his family have organized various searches to find Pino.

    His family started a “Find Guillermo Jr.” Facebook page in hopes of rallying more people for the search efforts in the desert.

    On Saturday, Pino Jr.'s father posted:

    "We found Junior at 5pm yesterday, in the Hidden Cave. Search and rescue will be there at dawn. Please continue to pray for Memo. Send good and positive thoughts toward Memo. Always have hope. God Bless You."

    The body was found in a cave approximately 35-feet from where Pino was last seen, according to authorities. Deputies investigated and reviewed the family's video footage. However, they have yet to recover the body or officially confirm if  it is, in fact, Pino.

    NBC 7 tried reaching out to Pino’s father Saturday, but at this time, he said he has no comment.

    California State Parks is working with the cave rescue team to figure out a way to extract the body from the cave. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's department's mine team will be brought in Tuesday to see if the cave walls can be shored up to make recover of the body safe for workers.

    "We're trying to get the soil stabilized first of all so you don't have a cascade, an avalanche of soil as you make some progress," said deputy spokesperson Jan Caldwell. "And you don't want to make the situation worse than it is."

    Roughly 30 people were at the caves on Monday attempting to help excavate the body. 

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