LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Authorities Wednesday asked for the public’s help with their search for a missing couple who left on a road trip to the desert.
Aaron Morganstein, 33, and Mariya Mitkova, 27, left their home in the 2200 block of Shoredale Avenue about 3 p.m. Saturday to hike and camp in Joshua Tree National Park or the Imperial Sand Dunes.
Morganstein’s mother lives in Chicago but is now on her way to Southern California. “The worst case scenario is what I’m thinking in my head,” she said. “This is too long. And it’s scary.”
Family and friends said the couple is eccentric explorers and avid hikers, who love nature, music, art and each other.
Friend Michael Kinsey was the last to see them. “They were talking about going camping, and Masha had something planned out. That was the last I talked to them. I saw them off,” he said.
Kinsey was also the first to realize they didn’t come back Monday morning, when he and Morganstein were supposed to show up for a photography job in San Diego.
Mitkova did not show up to her computer engineering job either.
“They really care about their work, and we were looking forward to this job and traveling together. It’s just really uncharacteristic for them not to report,” Kinsey added.
Friend Briana Gonzales agreed. “They would have called. We would have known they were going to be gone for several days. So that’s what’s concerning.”
Police have pinged their phones and said the couple had taken out cash on the way to the desert.
Their car was also no where to be found. Their loved ones worried because they didn’t have supplies for more than a night or two.
“It’s been very emotional. We’re really just hoping for the best and for their safety,” Kinsey said.
Their Gofundme page has already raised more than $14,000 to help with the search. Friends and family also rented a helicopter to help find the couple. Friends said that’s a testament to their personalities and how much people care.
According to a social media post by someone identified as a friend, a signal from at least one of their cell phones pinged off a tower near Interstate 10 in Rancho Mirage, and one of their credit cards was used in the Cabazon area.
Another friend reported speaking to the couple about three hours after the couple left for their trip Saturday, according to a Reddit post.
The pair said they were at an In-N-Out Burger and were heading to Imperial Sand Dunes before a scheduled rendezvous with that friend at the Jumbo Rocks Campground at Joshua Tree, according to the Reddit post.
Both Morganstein and Mitkoya are white. He is 6-foot-3, about 180 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
She is 5-foot-7, about 130 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes.
They were traveling in a 2012 dark blue Subaru Outback with California license – 6PHR231.
Anyone with information about the couple can call (213) 996-1800 or (877) LAPD-247.