Deputies discovered bodies believed to be a missing San Diego couple in a wrecked car immersed in the Kings River Thursday, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.
The Fresno County Sheriff's Search and Rescue (SAR) team worked with California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers to recover the bodies inside Sequoia National Park. The authorities believe the bodies are Chinese nationals Yinan Wang, 31, and his wife, Jie Song, 30, reported missing in Fresno since August. Wang had recently been living in San Diego.
A positive identification of the bodies is not yet complete. Deputies said the Coroner's Office will determine their exact identities during the autopsy process. Deputies said the car found in the river was confirmed as belonging to Wang.
Officers and deputies worked to recover the victims from the wreckage of a car along Highway 180 and Kings River.
Wang and Song were last seen Aug. 6 at Crystal Caves in Sequoia National Park, deputies said. They were planning to remain in Fresno that night, stay in a hotel and continue to Yosemite National Park the next day.
The couple intended to return to San Diego on Aug. 9 but they were never heard from. Some relatives of the couple filed a report with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department on Aug. 11.
Later, a Fresno deputy was watching local news coverage about a separate rescue operation for another car that crashed in the same area. That's when he noticed the San Diego couple's license plate, stuck in a thicket of branches off to the side, in the video footage.
He recognized that it belonged to a separate car than the current rescue operation displayed on the news. Once deputies received the missing persons report three days later, they began searching the area for the couple's car.
On Aug. 12, deputies and CHP officers flew their helicopters above the canyon where they spotted the wreckage of a white car submerged deeply underwater. However, they were unable to access the car immediately because of high water levels and dangerous rapids.
In September, the water levels were nearly 10 times lower than the previous month, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. This allowed the authorities to attempt a safer recovery operation.
Under these water conditions, they were able to use a cable to pull the vehicle out of the water and use tools to recover the bodies. CHP plans to analyze the car parts while they work to piece together what led up to two separate car crashes in the same area.