A San Diego father and son are stuck in Nepal after the region’s deadly earthquake and are working to raise money to help their tour guides whose villages and homes were destroyed in the devastating disaster.
Andi Neugarten told NBC 7 that her son, Jesse Neugarten, and his father, Larry Neugarten, are stranded in Lukla in northeastern Nepal. She said Jesse’s girlfriend, Ellie Huizenga and her father, who are from Atlanta, are also there.
Andi said Jesse and Larry left for their trip on April 20. They were hiking to base camp when the 7.8-magnitude quake struck the region. Luckily, they were unharmed as their tour guides rushed them to safety.
However, Andi said their tour guides lost everything in the earthquake – including some of family members and homes. Jesse and Larry created this fundraising page to collect donations for their guides.
Larry posted this message to his Facebook page following the earthquake:
"Hi everyone, thank you so much for your concerns. Yesterday we managed to climb to what we think is the safest place to be. We are in Lukla at about 11,000 ft. Many casualties being flown off the mountain to here. All flights out of Lukla have been medical only and limited. We are fine for now and are sleeping in a tent behind the airfield."
He also posted a note a his pgae about their efforts to help their tour guide:
"Our guides who both lost their homes, their entire villages and beloved family members whilst keeping us safe from the horror will still not leave our sides until we are safely off the mountain. We have started a fund to try and get their homes re built and bring them some form of shelter and safety. Each house would cost around $5,000."
As of Tuesday morning, Andi said they were "desperately working on flights" to get Jesse and Larry out of the disaster-stricken region.
“Desperation is setting in. Families at home [are] all worried,” she said. “My priority right now is getting them out.”
She was eventually able to book flights for both Jesse and Larry and said they would be returning home Thursday.
Andi said her son is a graduate of Torrey Pines High School. He is graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio next month.
Other locals linked to the Nepal quake include Carlsbad couple Matt Schiavon and Dawn Lightfoot. They were reported missing after the earthquake but have since been found safe and are expected back in Kathmandu within the next few days.
Four San Diegan hikers are also trapped in a Nepalese village in the aftermath of the quake, living among those grappling to escape the country's devastation as aid runs low.
Meanwhile, San Diego-based organization Restore International has put out an open call for volunteers to join their upcoming trip to Nepal next week when the group plans to travel to the region to help an orphanage and others impacted by the earthquake.
On Thursday, NBC 7 got an update from Andi about Jesse and Larry.
She said they are still stranded in Nepal, stuck at the Lukla airport trying to catch a flight out of the tiny village.
“[It’s been] another long and frustrating day for our family,” she said. “I just spoke to Jesse; they are okay. They have food and water but they are feeling very frustrated. The chances of getting out seem to lessen as more people come into Lukla. Hoping and praying they get out tomorrow.”