The body of an 18-year-old Santa Barbara man who went missing in Yosemite National Park the day before Thanksgiving was recovered by search teams Wednesday morning.

Gerardo Cruz Hernandez was found dead after traveling to the park from Santa Barbara on the morning of Nov. 22. His car was discovered at the Glacier Point parking lot later that night after family members reported him missing.

Park rangers launched an extensive search for Cruz on Thanksgiving morning with the aid of search dogs and a California Highway Patrol helicopter.

Hernandez’s family was notified of the discovery Wednesday, according to a statement issued by the National Park Service that afternoon.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman said rangers and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies are conducting an investigation into the events that led to Hernandez’s death. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s coroner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Gediman said he didn’t know exactly where Hernandez’s body was found and declined to speculate as to what may have happened to him.

“Interviewing family members and looking for witnesses will be part of the investigation,” Gediman said. “Right now, we don’t have anyone who saw him.”

Gediman said they haven’t received any information to suggest Hernandez traveled to the park with anyone else.

About 20 people die in the park each year, Gediman said. That includes accidental deaths and those from natural causes, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Gediman said the park was on track to reach that number this year, though he said he didn’t have access to the total number up to Wednesday.

More than 4 million people visit Yosemite each year, making it the third most popular national park in the United States.

Contact Alex MacLean at or (209) 588-4530.