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Still no sign of missing hiker from Hawthorne

June 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Friends and family of a missing hiker are optimistic he will be found safe and sound.

Hawthorne resident George Pensa, 30, was on a day hike in Yosemite National Park with about 20 members of his church Friday. They were headed to the top of a trail when relatives say Pensa decided he couldn't continue.

"He wasn't feeling so good so he wanted to go back," said Teresa Mundo, Pensa's cousin. "From my understanding, he took the wrong trail back and they all thought they were going to meet up with him up. That's when they reported him missing."

The group that Pensa had been hiking with filed a missing person's report about 9 p.m. Friday. Search and rescue crews have been combing the area around upper Yosemite Fall Trail.

"He's not that experienced at hiking so it does cross my mind if, does he know where to say? Is he in a safe area? If he's able to sit there and know of area where he can be found," Mundo said.

Yosemite officials say Pensa disappeared on a trail that is popular and well maintained, but Mundo, who lives a few blocks from Pensa's home, can't help but be worried.

"There's mountain lions, there's bears. Is he sleeping ok? Is he dehydrated? Is he starving? Everything is going through my mind," she said. "I try to stay positive. But that's always stuck in the back of your head is what else is out there."

Search and rescue crews in Yosemite are saying their using two helicopters with about 74 people on the ground in their search. They said they would continue until sunset Monday and would resume their search Tuesday morning.

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