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Update: Missing Man's Mother Says It's Too Soon to Celebrate

Despite news reports that Garrett Hand and Jamie Neal have been found on a Peruvian river, Hand's mother says more information is needed before the celebrating begins.

Concord's Francine Fitzgerald, Garrett Hand's mother, released a statement today in which she urges caution at the news that her son and his girlfriend, Jamie Neal, have been located on a Peruvian river.

"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," Fitzgerald said in her statement. "The information told to me is that they are on a boat on the river and that they are sending a plane to find them. I am told to expect information by tomorrow sometime.

"While I appreciate the extraordinary efforts of the media, the U.S. and Peruvian governments, until I hear from and see my son directly, we will not stop. This young couple is someone’s son and brother, someone’s daughter and sister and United States citizens. We have not heard from them since January 25, nor have they accessed bank accounts since that time. We have only the worst to consider as to why.

"Thank you those of you who are helping – friends, family, reporters, officials – and our task is done when Garrett and Jamie are home and safe."

According to a KGO-TV report on Garrett Hand and Jamie Neal:

Peruvian police say they have made contact with Garrett Hand and Jamie Neal, an East Bay couple that friends and family thought had gone missing during a South American bike trip.

The Peruvian tourism ministry says the couple is traveling on a boat along the Navos River. The couple says they were unaware they had been reported as missing.

Earlier Report: Missing Cyclist's Mother Frantic For His Return

Francine Fitzgerald is reaching out to anyone she can think of to help her find her missing son, who disappeared in Peru on Jan. 26.

Concord resident Francine Fitzgerald is living out a mother’s worst nightmare. Her son , also 25, were on a bicycle tour of South America starting in November. On Jan. 26, they suddenly disappeared in Peru. Now Fitzgerald is desperate to find out where they are, and most especially, make sure they are all right.

“They have been putting their journey on Facebook,” Fitzgerald said Monday. “They’ve been posting pictures. They were happy and healthy, and they would call us on Skype every eight or nine days.”

They started their adventure in Argentina, then went through Chile. On Jan. 25, as they entered Peru, the Facebook entries stopped. So did the Skype calls. Weeks later, there is still no word.

Fitzgerald’s daughter had Garrett’s computer password, which allowed them access to his bank account and Hotmail account.

“We became very alarmed at that point, because all of his bank and email transactions stopped on Jan. 25,” she said.

Fitzgerald contacted the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru. The embassy website is warning Americans of the threat of kidnapping.  

“Now alarms are going off,” Fitzgerald said. “The American embassy, Peruvian police, are all helping us try to find Garrett and Jamie. We are hoping for the best that he’s safe. We’re going to keep searching until we find him.”

Diana Neideffer February 26, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Stay strong. Take time to care for yourself. Breath deep. Get help to sleep well if need be. Meditate.... Hope is still very present and they need you strong. Every mom is with you. How can I help? I am a Mom and Grandmother with a willing shoulder to share. Diana Neideffer Hunt
Michael Fryer February 26, 2013 at 06:21 PM
What can we do to help?
Chris Nicholson February 26, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Definitely need a public facebook page for the search and a twitter account. Use the encoed GPS information from the photos they posted to pinpoint their last known position, and get that info out on facebook. Consider reaching out to nearby colleges (I would start with online student newspapers) with photos and links to the facebook page. In your email contact, include a "press release" in English and Spanish that they can quickly adapt into a story for their publications. Try to gets some free/broad viral interest/publicity working for you in the local press and social media....
Regular Guy February 26, 2013 at 11:00 PM
"The Peruvian tourism ministry says the couple is traveling on a boat along the Navos River. The couple says they were unaware they had been reported as missing." What a relief! That really brightened my day.
Mary Grigsby February 26, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Thank God!!!!! My daughter is traveling in Europe, so this really hit home and upset me. So glad it has a happy outcome!
Valerie Sloven February 26, 2013 at 11:47 PM
I like happy endings. One can only imagine the relief and joy felt by their family and friends at this news.
Lady Sotelo February 27, 2013 at 06:48 AM
Apparently there are FB pages created for the search.
Estaban February 27, 2013 at 05:40 PM
Sorry, but isn't the point of such a trip to get 'off the grid' for an extended amount of time? I've travelled extensively on my bike around the world and the last thing I would want is some beeping piece of hardware in my pocket. In Peru, away from the cities, there isn't internet around every corner, nor an ATM, cash is king and i'm sure they prepared. Why do people always assume the worst? Perhaps because the media makes us think (out of proportion) that abductions and murder happen much more frequently than a common car accident. Sometimes I wish we could go back before the internet, when sending a post card from a far away destination was enough to let your parents know you were alive and well! Hmmm, i remember traveling through Europe for 3 months with just my backpack and some cash. No credit cards, no cell phone.Phone calls were about $5/min. so I couldn't afford to call home often. Good luck to the kids today and in the future that want to just 'take off' and have that important growing experience. I can hear the parents (i'm one 5x) now recalling how 'that couple disappeared'...

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