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Woman vanishes on hiking trail near San Diego, search underway

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(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) — A search continued Monday for a 50-year-old woman a day after she went missing while hiking in a wilderness area in San Diego, according to police.

The hiker, identified by police as Diem Le Nguyen, vanished Sunday morning after she became separated from her hiking group of about 100 people while on the Nighthawk Trail in Black Mountain Open Space Park in the Rancho Peñasquitos area of north San Diego, according to the San Diego Police Department.

“Due to the weather and difficulty of the trail, she is missing at risk,” the police department said in a post on the social media site X.

“SDPD along with countywide resources is still looking for Diem Nguyen. Multiple search dogs are being utilized, we ask volunteers to avoid the area so that it doesn’t impact the dog’s ability to detect,” police said on X Monday.

Nguyen set out on the hike with a group, police said. Around 8 a.m. PT, Nguyen decided to go ahead of her group and finish hiking the Nighthawk Trail alone, police said.

About 90 minutes later, Nguyen made contact with her hiking group and “shared she was at the end of the trail.”

“She has not made contact or been seen since,” according to police.

By 3 p.m. Sunday, search-and-rescue teams, along with a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department helicopter crew, were combing the area for the missing hiker.

A photo taken on the trail Sunday of Nguyen flashing a peace sign and standing next to a trailhead sign was released by police on X.

Police officials asked for the public’s help in finding Nguyen, requesting that anyone with information about her whereabouts call 911 immediately.

Nguyen and her group were hiking in high temperatures that enveloped the San Diego area over the weekend. The National Weather Service had issued a heat advisory for the area, where temperatures soared into the low 90s on Sunday.

Police said some members of the hiking group turned back because of the heat, but Nguyen was determined to reach the summit of the 4,048-foot-tall Black Mountain.

When she disappeared, Nguyen was dressed in a black shirt with a pink heart on the front, black pants, a brown hat, sunglasses and a backpack, according to police.

As the search for Nguyen continued Monday, another California hiker said he was thankful to be alive after getting lost on a hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California and spending 10 days in the wilderness before search and rescue crews found him last week.

Luke McClish, 34, of Boulder Creek, California, said he set out on June 11 for what he thought would be a short hike without informing anyone of his plans. Five days later, his family reported him missing when he failed to show up at a Father’s Day dinner. When he was found at the bottom of a ravine on Thursday, McClish told rescuers he lost 30 pounds over the 10 days he was missing and survived by drinking a gallon of creek water every day.

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