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Missing Hikers Found Safe After Harrowing 5 Days Stranded In Desert

LOS ANGELES ( — A couple who friends say didn't return from a hiking trip on time have been found safe, Los Angeles police said Friday.

Mariya Mitkova, 27, and Aaron Morganstein, 33, were located in good health near the sand dunes of Osborne Lookout and will be reunited with their family.

The couple was last seen leaving their home in the 2200 block of Shoredale Avenue. The pair known for camping frequently was believed to be headed to Joshua Tree National Park or the Imperial San Dunes.

Friends reported the couple missing on Monday when Morganstein didn't show up for a photography job in San Diego and Mitkova did not show up to work at her computer engineering job.

KCAL9's Tom Wait reports what was supposed to be a fun little jaunt turned into a harrowing five-day ordeal  -- the couple had to drink their own urine to survive.

He spoke on Friday to the couple's friends and family who spent much of the day celebrating.

(credit: LAPD)

"I feel better. I'm ecstatic that they're alive," said Briana Gonzales.

"Getting the news that they're alive was such a huge relief," said Michael Kinsey.

Friends and family hired a helicopter to help search for the couple. But the two were ultimately able to rescue themselves after finding a cell tower where maintenance workers helped them to safety.

The couple says they saw the helicopter flying above them and were able to light a fire to get attention but that no one was able to see them.

The couple are currently recuperating with family in Joshua Tree.

Morganstein's mother spoke to Wait via FaceTime.

"It's like the end of a nightmare and I've woken up," she said.  "It's a miracle."


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