JOSHUA TREE — A Lakewood couple has been found safe after being stranded with three flat tires near the high desert's Joshua Tree National Park, officials said today.

The pair — Helen Melnyk, 56, and a friend, Tony Nosow, 59 — were reported missing Saturday by the woman's daughter, Kristina Melnyk.

An air and ground search Monday and Tuesday by park rangers and the California Highway Patrol fixed-wing plane crew failed to find the couple or Nosow's pickup, a four-wheel-drive Ehevrolet Silverado.

However, a helicopter crew with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department spotted the pair just south of the park at about 11:40 p.m. Tuesday, said department spokesperson Jodi Miller.

The area is dotted with abandoned mines.

"There are a zillion mines in that area," said park spokesperson Joe Zarki.

The couple had climbed a hilly area, and flagged down the helicopter with a flashlight, Miller said.

Nosow owns a home in the area, and the couple — requiring no medical care — was released at a sheriff's substation.

joe.segura@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2167, twitter.com/JoeSeguraPT