October 10, 2018
MECCA, Calif – On October 2, 2018, about 4:15 PM, deputies from the Thermal Station received a call that Riverside County Transportation Department employees located a vehicle in Box Canyon between Interstate 10 and Painted Canyon Road near Mecca. The vehicle appeared to have been swept off the roadway in the canyon, possibly during recent storms on September 30, 2018. The vehicle was described as a Silver Honda with significant damage, and was registered to a missing person, Ankit Goyal, 28 years old of El Centro.
Investigators determined Mr. Goyal had reportedly camped in Joshua Tree National park between September 28 and September 30, 2018. He was reportedly traveling home to El Centro, with a likely route to include Box Canyon Road, on September 30 at about 7:00 PM. There was a significant storm in that area on that date and time, resulting in major destruction to Box Canyon Road due to flash flooding. A search of the immediate area where the vehicle was located by deputies and rangers from the Bureau of Land Management was conducted without finding Mr. Goyal.
A massive search and rescue effort involving over two hundred searchers was conducted over four days. The search effort was bolstered by a mutual aid request through the California Office of Emergency Services, which brought search and rescue teams from throughout California. Search and Rescue Teams from Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Imperial County, San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County, and Kern County, along with assistance from the Bureau of Land Management.
Additional resources included ground search teams, off-road vehicle searchers, helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes from the sheriff’s department and the California Highway Patrol, the sheriff’s department dive team, numerous search canine teams, and various specialized equipment from the Sheriff’s Department Hazardous Device Team. That equipment included ground penetrating radar and excavation heavy equipment. The Joshua Tree Search and Rescue family support unit assisted in providing resources to Mr. Goyal’s family.
Numerous items related to the vehicle were located throughout Box Canyon. Mr. Ankit was not located during the search. The ground search was suspended on October 6, 2018; however, other search efforts will continue. Ankit Goyal is an Indian male adult with black hair and brown eyes, approximately 5’6” tall, weighing approximately 160 pounds.
Anyone with information regarding Ankit Goyal’s disappearance is asked to please contact the El Centro Police Department at 760-337-4525 or Investigator Jeff Hammond at 760-863-8347, or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 760-341-STOP (7867).