Published February 27, 2013
The young California couple missing in Peru for over a month was apparently spotted.
Peru's Andina state news agency reported Tuesday night that they were headed toward Ecuador on a river that leads to the Amazon.
Peru's ministry of foreign trade and tourism and could not immediately confirm the report.
The couple, who went cycling through South America, went missing Jan. 25.
Garrett Hand, 27, and Jamie Neal, 25, both cycling enthusiasts, were last heard from in Peru when they began their journey from Cuzco to Lima. The couple had been in South America since late November where they biked through Argentina and Chile into Peru.
On Tuesday, U.S. embassy spokeswoman Leslie Goodman said that U.S. officials were informed by Peruvian police that the two had been spotted in the Amazon.
Andina agency reported that the couple had recently stopped in the town of Angoteros and spoken with a police officer. It said both "expressed their surprise at information that foreign media had reported their supposed disappearance."
The report did not explain why there had been neither banking nor social media activity by either Hand or Neal in more than a month, but it said the two were now in a region without telecommunications or Internet, heading on the Napo river toward the border post of Cabo Pantoja.
Hand's mother Francine Fitzgerald said in Facebook postings on Tuesday that the family had received phone calls from the U.S. Embassy and the Peruvian government saying the couple had been spotted in a remote village.
She said she was not celebrating until she has proof of life. "My son's voice on the phone and a picture of him holding the missing poster," she said.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.