Family of Peoria couple found dead in Grand Canyon remembers victims

PEORIA, Ariz. (KSAZ) - The mother of the man found dead with his girlfriend in the Grand Canyon is speaking out. 

The mother of Garret Bonkowski says the couple was never reported missing because they didn't know the couple was stopping at the Grand Canyon. She says he was a spur of the moment guy who would touch base when he could.

Family says Garret and Jessica Bartz were moving out of state and never mentioned where they would stop. 

"I said I love you Garret and he said I love you mom, we hugged and then they left," recalled Jennifer Follis, Garret's mother. 

Those were the last words Jennifer Follis said to her son, 25-year-old Garret Bonkowski, as he left Peoria for the last time.

"My son, he is an amazing person, he has a way about him," said Follis. 

Garret and his girlfriend of more than two years, 22-year-old Jessica Bartz, were moving.

"The plan was that they were going to go to Iowa, which is where she is from so that was unexpected to find that out," said Follis. 

According to the National Park Service, the couple is believed to have entered the Grand Canyon on September 18th and their bodies found in early October. 

While authorities haven't said how the couple passed, the family tells Fox 10 they fell as they hiked off trail in the Grand Canyon.

"He was one to be in nature like hiking," said Gavin Bonkowski, Garret's brother. 

Garret's love of life and big energy and being outdoors is possibly what led him to the Grand Canyon.

"He would search for answers to everything all the time, he wanted to know everything," explained Follis. "I know he has the answers that he so much sought out after."

As for Jessica's family, they are in Iowa where the couple was going to move before this tragedy cut their lives short. 

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