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Missing hikers recovered

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - It's a happy ending to report as a mother and daughter reunite with family after being lost overnight at a popular hiking trail.

For father and husband Dave Duenas, the last twenty-four hours were sheer horror.  

"My wife Monique and my 11-year-old daughter Ilaria are missing right now. We were hiking in Tarzan Falls. We decided to hike down the Tarzan River to the Tarzan swim hole," explained David Duenas. "I'm distraught about not being able to find them. we're just having a waiting game here and that's what we're doing."

As duenas explains, with his two daughters out of school for Spring Break, he and his wife planned a family hike through Tarzan Falls. In total, there were seven who set out on the trail Wednesday morning but only five returned later that day.

"We had a party of seven: two adults and five minors. Two are my daughters and their friends," he said.

After what Duenas says felt like over two hours of hiking, the group realized they had lost the Ziploc bag containing their wallets, car keys, and cell phones.

"My wife was determined. She wanted to find these items so that we could get out of here. So, she doubled back and my older daughter wanted to accompany her and they went together. The plan was that they would go back to the falls area cause that was the way in which we came and then they would go up that trail and that we would meet at the car. And that I would exit at the point that I knew further down and come up and meet at the car," he said.

Once at the entrance, Duenas flagged down a passing car where he called the parents of the three minors to be picked up before he set back out to his wife and older daughter.

"I went and I tried to go down to the Tarzan Falls trail to see if I could find them and intercept them at that point but that was already after six and it was getting kind of dark. I was getting kind of concerned that I would get lost myself. You cannot see the trail markers at night," he said.

A multi-agency search and rescue mission was launched just after seven Wednesday night. Guam Fire Department spokesperson Lt. Ed Artero said, "We have units from Guam Fire, also Guam Police, Navy HSC-25 also conducted some flies. We conducted the search all night and then this morning we have teams up at LeoPalace dam making their way down south to the river and to the pool to widen the search a little bit more. We also have Richard Burkhart here, search and rescue dogs and a whole bunch of civilians with off-road small vehicles to help transport people in and out."

Just after one this afternoon, the mother and daughter duo were recovered by U.S. Navy's Helicopter Combat Squadron 25 and transported to Naval Hospital via helicopter.

According to hospital spokesperson Jennifer Zengalie, the two were discharged shortly after their arrival.

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