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Missing ATVers found dead in Mojave Desert

By Tracy Sabo
updated 9:58 PM EST, Thu December 22, 2011
Daniel Preddy Carbonaro, 27, and Chris Wayne Rice, 29, were trying out Rice's new ATV, family members said.
Daniel Preddy Carbonaro, 27, and Chris Wayne Rice, 29, were trying out Rice's new ATV, family members said.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The two men are found dead Thursday
  • They had been missing since Sunday
  • The two planned to ride ATV in the Mojave Desert

(CNN) -- The bodies of two ATV enthusiasts missing since Sunday in California's Mojave Desert were found Thursday after a massive search, authorities said.

Kern County, California, sheriff's Lt. Steve Hansen said the bodies of Daniel Preddy Carbonaro, 27, and Chris Wayne Rice, 29, were found and the search was ended. He had no additional details.

Carbonaro and Rice, both of Santa Barbara, California, had traveled to a remote corner of the desert with their girlfriends, hoping to test out Rice's new 2011 Polaris ATV, family members said. The area is popular with "off-roaders," campers and recreational enthusiasts.

"I am so sad to report it is official, Dan and Chris were found deceased," said the search's Facebook page, "Friends of the Chris Rice and Dan Carbonaro search." A memorial fund was set up on the site.

The two young men left a Randsburg, California, hotel about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, telling their girlfriends where they were headed and saying they'd be back within a few hours.

The two planned to travel by ATV about 15 miles to the Cuddeback Dry Lake Bed in San Bernardino County, an expansive and popular "off-roading" area.

It was a "dark, moonless night," said Carbonaro's father, Robert Carbonaro, who worried as the search was under way that the two "may have gotten disoriented."

Carbonaro said he was worried about abandoned gold mine shafts in the area. But Kern County authorities said the bodies were found in a ravine area with rugged, steep terrain.

Agencies participating in the search for the two men included the Kern County Sheriff's Office; the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department; the California Highway Patrol; the Bureau of Land Management; and the Indian Wells Mine Rescue Team.

Relatives of the two men were out searching alongside authorities as well, Robert Carbonaro said.

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