SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Family and friends gathered in a San Francisco church Sunday to pray for the return of a nurse and a pilot whose plane went missing off California’s Lost Coast last month.
On Oct. 24, 43-year-old Justin Winfrey flew to dinner with a friend, 27-year-old Kayla Rodriguez. They took off for Mendocino County in Winfrey’s red-and-white, single-engine Piper Arrow, which radar last tracked five miles off the coast. They have not been seen since.READ MORE: Support for Windsor Mayor Crumbles as Details of Alleged Sexual Misconduct Emerge
Their immediate family members have formed a search party, determined to bring them home alive.
“We’re just still searching, the search is still on,” said Larry Rodriguez, Kayla’s father. “It’s been an emotional up and down roller coaster, but obviously we’re hopeful and we’re continuing…we love her.”
Meanwhile, the Rev. Amos Brown presided over a special service at 3rd Baptist Church Sunday afternoon to show community support and raise awareness over the search and rescue campaign.
“Today we’re here to pray for the rescue of our loved ones,” said Angelo King, a close friend of Winfrey. “Don’t despair, do not discourage, we are here for the rescue of our family members.”READ MORE: Hundreds at Bay Area Rallies March to Support Asian Americans
Larry Rodriguez said a helicopter spent the day searching along a rugged coast line. The search party is upbeat, as both of the missing people have a lot of grit, strong personalities.
Kayla Rodriguez is a California Pacific Medical Center delivery nurse. Winfrey, a prominent member of the African-American community, had just finished his certification to become a mortician.
“If anybody’s going to survive an ordeal, it will be them,” said King. “So the family is full of faith and full of hope that we’re going to bring them back home.”
A restaurant surveillance video captured the last time the two were seen. Kayla is seen wearing a rose top with her hair in a bun. Justin is wearing a blue T-shirt. Kayla’s father says the owner of Gyppo Ale Mill restaurant in Shelter Cove gave him the video to share on social media to raise awareness.
Winfrey’s plane disappeared somewhere between Shelter Cove near the restaurant and Fort Bragg, about 45 miles down the coast. His mother is holding out hope. “I’m praying for a miracle, that wherever they are, they are not suffering, that God is holding them in his hands,” said Carol Ogilvie.MORE NEWS: Former Sebastopol Mayor Arrested on Suspicion of Sexual Assault Against a Minor
A search group of close family and friends remains on the ground in Mendocino County. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the intense aerial search.