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Family of Four Found Dead in Forest

December 10, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A couple who disappeared with their two young children after having Thanksgiving dinner with relatives were found dead near their overturned pickup truck on a remote road in Angeles National Forest.

Rescuers planned to remove the bodies today from the site where the truck plunged off the side of a winding, snow-covered mountain road. A sheriff’s helicopter spotted it on Tuesday.

A preliminary report said the victims were Jose Lechuga, 35; his wife, Dolores, 44; and their sons Joseph, 6, and Jeremy, 4, although a coroner’s report would positively identify the bodies, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Debra Glafkides.

Two victims were found dead inside the truck; footsteps led investigators to two bodies nearby. It was unlikely that anyone could have survived more than 10 days in the stormy, freezing weather, investigators said.

The Lechuga family hadn’t been seen since celebrating Thanksgiving in Victorville, a city in the high desert about 70 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Ermelia Lechuga said her brother said the dinner prayer and expressed thanks for his family.

``We’ve been looking for them ever since,″ nephew Edgar Lechuga said.

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