What began as an adventurous outing turned into a nightmare for four Turks in the California wilderness. The disappearances of Barış Kavukçu, Berkay Sürmeli, İlkay Zaman and İsa Emre Elvermez sent shockwaves throughout California's Turkish community over the weekend when they were reported missing by family members who lost contact with them. The four men were later found during a massive search in the early hours of Wednesday morning after families claim that the local police waited for pings indicating cell phone activity from the victims because they deemed the search "too expensive."
The men, in their 20s and 30s, were spotted by a search and rescue helicopter after lighting a fire in the forest where they went missing near Santa Clarita. The men were airlifted to a Los Angeles residence while İlkay Zaman, a prominent Turkish blogger known for posting YouTube videos about daily life in the U.S., tweeted that the four men had been rescued and were "in good health." Prior to the hunting trip, Zaman had announced in a YouTube video that he and Berkay Sürmeli, a software developer, were planning to shoot an amateur hunting video. The other two men, Kavukçu and Elvermez, had their hunting licenses, according to family members. Speaking to a Turkish TV station, Elif Burcu Çetin, the wife of İlkay Zaman, has claimed that U.S. authorities did not launch a search for the missing men at first, claiming it was "too expensive" to search a wide area for the missing men and instructing her to wait for cellphone towers to indicate pings from her husband's cell phone. The four men arrived in Riverside early Sunday according to their families and were in an area with weak cell phone reception when they went missing. Family members quoted by Turkish media outlets claimed that the police told them to look at credit card activity and cell phone records of the missing on their own, claiming the police were too busy to handle the case on Election Day.
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