Saturday, May 18, 2024

Human Remains Found in Mt. Baldy Wilderness Near Where Julian Sands Vanished

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Human remains found by hikers in Mt. Baldy on Saturday afternoon—near where 65-year-old actor and mountaineer Julian Sands disappeared January 13—are being examined by the state Coroner’s Office as Sands’ family released its first statement acknowledging their loss.

“We continue to hold Julian in our hearts with bright memories of him as a wonderful father, husband, explorer, lover of the natural world and the arts, and as an original and collaborative performer,” reads the statement. Sands’ wife, celebrated journalist and author Evgenia Citkowitz, have been married since and are the parents of three adult children.“We are deeply grateful to the search teams and coordinators who have worked tirelessly to find Julian.”

The longtime British actor has appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, but it was a lead role in the 1985 British romance “A Room With a View” that made him a global superstar.

The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office has undertaken eight perilous searches for the missing British actor using search and rescue teams, helicopters and drones to scour the steep and icy ravines dotting one of the most dangerous mountains in the country. Risk of avalanche and extreme winter weather hampered rescuers efforts on the tallest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The most recent search for Sands, on June 17, turned up nothing, the sheriff’s department said, adding: “Despite the recent warmer weather, portions of the mountain remain inaccessible due to extreme alpine conditions.” The mountain, which is more than 10,064-feet-tall at its peak—remains buried under “10-plus feet of ice and snow,” the sheriff’s department said last week.

Sands is not the only victim of Mt. Baldy’s notoriously treacherous terrain. Crystal Paula Gonzales, an avid hiker and mother of four from L.A., died in a fall minutes after she posted a Facebook video declaring “It’s go time,” as she hiked in Mt. Baldy’s inky darkness on January 8, just days before Sands’ disappearance. Despite a desperate attempt to save her by fellow hikers and a rescue helicopter, she was pronounced dead on the mountain.

The Angeles National Forest repeatedly warned hikers against hiking alone—as Sands did in the Baldy Bowl—citing the mountain’s uncertain alpine conditions that have taken the lives of even the most experienced hikers. In April 2017, Seuk Doo Kim, a 78-year-old South Korean hiker from Culver City who climbed Mt. Baldy more than 700 times, was also killed when he fell from a trailhead.

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