A 29-year-old woman from Monterey Park who went missing last month during a yoga retreat in Guatemala possibly could have drowned while kayaking, according to Guatemalan authorities.
On Oct. 19, Nancy Ng went missing while traveling with a yoga retreat group in Lake Atitlán in Guatemala and was last seen at about 10:30 a.m. going out to kayak, according to her 27-year-old sister, Nicky Ng. Their parents got a call from the organizer of the yoga retreat that same day saying Ng was gone.
According to a statement from the Guatemalan prosecutor's office obtained by ABC7, Ng drowned when the group went kayaking and, according to the woman Ng was with, they continued "approximately two kilometers deeper into the lake," where Ng told the woman "she wants to swim and that is when she drowns."
An FBI spokesperson confirmed the agency had offered resources and assistance to the Guatemalan authorities handling the case.
Nicky Ng said the family last heard from her sister Oct. 14, which was the birthday of their brother, Richard. Nancy had texted their family group chat, wishing Richard a happy birthday and confirming that she'd landed in Guatemala. She said she was going to be unplugged from her phone for the next few days but that she was safe.
"She's so bubbly," she said. "She likes to travel. She's the talkative one out of my whole family. She's our big sister and we love her so much and we need to find out what happened."
Nicky Ng said her family had been working with the U.S. Embassy, the State Department and Guatemalan authorities in hopes of locating Ng. Although there is no official search, she said her family had hired Black Wolf Helicopters to conduct a private search. Based on information they've gotten from locals and other members of the yoga group, the family narrowed down a portion of the lake where Nancy was last seen. The search is expected to resume later this week or early next week.
Ng's family has received a police report from the Guatemalan Public Ministry, but it contained no eyewitness statements or any statements from the day of her sister's disappearance, according to Nicky Ng.
"It's been difficult beyond words," she said. "It's hard to explain exactly how much of a nightmare this has been. She was due back Oct. 22, and it's hard to see the rest of the group return without her. We're very frustrated, and we simply don't understand how someone could've witnessed my sister's disappearance and not come forward."
Ng's parents haven't been able to eat or sleep and her father keeps his phone next to him at night, in the hopes that he might get a ransom call, Nicky Ng said. The family also created a GoFundMe page to raise money for family support and rescue efforts. They're still hoping that eyewitnesses will come forward and help with the investigation.
"My family is definitely still holding on to hope," she said. "Something endearing about Nancy is that she's always running late to things because she's talking so much with everybody and making friends. Part of me thinks she'll just come through the door and say, "Sorry I made you guys worry. I'm just late again.'"
Ng traveled with the same U.S. yoga retreat the previous year and made a last-minute decision to go again this year, Nicky Ng said. Ng worked as a behavioral interventionist aide with the Alhambra Unified School District for the last few years.
"It's difficult because you're not sure how to grieve your missing loved one but at the same time, you have to plow ahead and have to muster the strength to have to find them," said Jared Lopez, Nicky Ng's partner who set up the GoFundMe page. "The fact that there are people who could give us those answers or give us some peace of mind or closure, the fact that it's been three weeks and they haven't spoken up feels cruel."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.