A Fullerton couple who went missing after visiting a casino in northern San Diego County two weeks ago were found Sunday in a damaged car near Warner Springs in a remote area of the county, authorities said.
Cecil Knutson, 79, was found dead while his wife, Dianna Bedwell, 68, was alive but severely dehydrated. She was airlifted in critical condition to a hospital in Escondido. Her condition was unknown.
It appears she survived on food in the car, including pie and oranges, and rainwater.
"There was cups around. They were drinking rainwater as it rained and they've been out there for all indications since around May 10," said Los Coyotes tribal police Chief Dave Sossaman.
“Sheriff’s homicide investigators responded to the hospital and were able to obtain a brief statement from Bedwell,” the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said. “The preliminary investigation indicates the couple became lost soon after leaving the casino while attempting to find a shortcut to their ultimate destination. They remained with their vehicle until ultimately found.”
Late Sunday afternoon, a private investigator hired by the couple's family to search for them posted on a family social-media site that the people in the car were Knutson and Bedwell.
Later a family member posted a short message, "It is them...Rest In Peace Dad."
A second message was posted later: "I got to talk to Mom on the phone. We exchanged I love you s."
The Sheriff's Department also confirmed that the couple in the car was Knutson and Bedwell. The car was found by a person on an off-road vehicle.
The case is being investigated by the Sheriff's Department and the Los Coyotes Police Department. The latter has responsibility for a tribal reservation near where the car was found.
Dianna Bedwell told investigators that the couple had hoped to take a shortcut to their son's home but became lost and their car broke down, according to Sheriff's Lt. Kenneth Nelson. The couple drank rainwater and ate some snacks they had in the car.
The two left the Valley View Casino in Valley Center on the afternoon of May 10. Their son said they had planned to drive to his home in the Riverside County community of La Quinta but never arrived.
The Sheriff's Department, in asking the public for help in finding the couple, had warned that both had medical conditions that could cause them to become disoriented.
Times staff writer Shelby Grad contributed to this report.