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Body found near mangled car below cliff on Highway 1 is that of missing North Hollywood woman

A body found Tuesday near a tan sedan hundreds of feet below Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County was identified as that of a North Hollywood woman, who along with her boyfriend went missing more than a week ago on a drive to Big Sur.

The body of Olivia Hannah Gonzalez, 20, was discovered 325 feet below the coast highway, near the shoreline, according to Officer Patrick Seebart, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol. Her body was found next to the vehicle and the remains of a dog.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Gonzalez’s sister, Vanessa Guzman, broke the news about the death. 

“The body they found on the rocks is that of my sister, Olivia … she was a beautiful soul,” she wrote. “This pains me to even start this. Prayers for my family at this time is greatly appreciated, we are grieving at this time.”

Authorities had planned to search the site for additional bodies on Wednesday, but rain and the “treacherous terrain” were slowing efforts, according to Tony Cipolla, a spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.

“It’s very difficult for crews to rappel down to that location,” he said.

Gonzalez and her boyfriend, Brian Fernandez, 21, were last seen Dec. 23 when they left for a holiday road trip to Big Sur with two dogs, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. They were expected to return on Christmas Day.

When they failed to return home, they were reported missing.

No foul play is suspected, Cipolla said.

On Tuesday, rescuers from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection searched the rugged area just 10 miles north of Hearst Castle.

Crews also peered inside the wrecked vehicle, which was unoccupied, he said.

After the couple went missing, police released a description of Fernandez’s car, a 2002 four-door tan Honda Civic.

A helicopter crew surveyed the car’s wreckage and spotted the bodies of the woman and dog about 15 feet from the car.

Although the vehicle has not been recovered, authorities are hoping to hoist it up after the storm clears on Thursday or Friday.

From there, Cipolla said, crews will search under the vehicle for other possible remains. Rescuers will also scour the rocky area and Pacific Ocean, looking for evidence connected to Fernandez.

“It’s possible he was ejected into the water,” Cipolla said, adding that a dive team from the Sheriff’s Department was surveying the coastal water for Fernandez. Authorities were also searching for the remains of the second dog, Cipolla said.

Sheriff’s officials have not determined the breed of the dead dog, he said.

A GoFundMe page has been created by Gonzalez’s sister.

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno.

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UPDATES:

4:00 p.m. Jan. 4: This article was updated with additional details on the search efforts as well as confirmation that no foul play was suspected.

1:50 p.m. Jan. 4: This article was updated with authorities confirming the body is Olivia Gonzalez.

12:05 p.m. Jan. 4: This article was updated with details about the search efforts and the condition of the woman’s body.

11:15 p.m. Jan. 3: This article was updated to confirm that the bodies of a person and a dog were recovered from the scene.

This article was originally published at 7 p.m. Jan. 3.

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