The Kern County Coroner’s Office has confirmed the identity of one of two bodies found last week in the Mojave Desert as 27-year-old Daniel Carbonaro of Santa Barbara.
Carbonaro’s next of kin has been notified. The other body has not yet been positively identified but is believed to be 29-year-old Chris Rice of Santa Barbara.
Carbonaro and Rice had been missing since Dec. 18 in the desert area near the border of San Bernardino and Kern counties after leaving the Cottage Inn Motel in Randsburg on an all-terrain vehicle about 2:30 a.m.
Tire tracks found near Government Peak in the Mojave Desert last Wednesday led to a crash site, where searchers found an ATV and the bodies of two adult males, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.
Because of the rugged terrain and the location of the site, a Kern County Sheriff’s Office rescue helicopter was called in to retrieve the bodies, which were then taken to the Kern County Coroner’s Office in Bakersfield.
Rice and Carbonaro, both outdoor enthusiasts, were headed to Cuddeback Lake in San Bernardino County, according to Kern County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ray Pruitt.
The men had planned on a 45-minute trip and didn’t bring food, water, extra clothing or their cell phones. The search area consisted of about 11,000 square miles and is known for rough terrain and numerous open mine shafts in the area — there are about 15,000 in San Bernardino and Riverside counties alone.
Terry Baxter, a friend of the men, said in an email to Noozhawk that Rice and Carbonaro had apparently driven off a cliff, falling about 500 feet. She said it is believed that they died on impact.
The Kern County Desert Search & Rescue Team, the Indian Wells Mine Rescue Team, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, the China Lake Mountain Rescue Group and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department were all part of the ground and aerial search party that exceeded 200 people.
A “Friends of the Chris Rice and Dan Carbonaro Search” Facebook page was established early last week and has more than 1,100 members. Friends and family have used the site to post remembrances, photos and updates.
Friends and family are invited to honor Carbonaro’s life at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Godric Grove area at Elings Parks. Rice’s memorial is set for Jan. 4. The media are not invited to Carbonaro’s services Wednesday. No further details have been released.
The Dan Carbonaro and Chris Rice Search Fund has been opened at Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. The account number is 0102413861. Stop by any branch or mail to SBBT/Cottage Office, 220 Nogales St., Santa Barbara CA 93105. Put a note in the envelope marked C/O Jonathan J. Katz-Moses: Dan Carbonaro and Chris Rice Search Fund. Click here to make an online donation.
All donations will help Rice’s and Carbonaro’s families pay for hotels, supplies, funeral arrangements, etc. Call 805.448.8234 for more information.