Update: avalanches hamper search for missing actor at Mt. Baldy

by Courier staff

The search continues via helicopter for British actor Julian Sands, one of two hikers currently missing in the Mt. Baldy area, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The other missing hiker is Hawthorne resident Bob Gregory.

Sands was reported missing by his family the evening of Friday, January 13.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office issued this update on Friday, January 20: “Evidence of avalanches was observed earlier in the week on the west side of the slopes and ground search and rescue efforts continue to be held back. Additional air searches will be conducted, however, there is no set time or duration for the searches. The pings from January 14th and 15th were delayed and showed Sands’ movement on January 13th. Detectives are working with California Office of Emergency Services, who have additional cell phone forensic technology, to pinpoint an exact location.  Thus far, no workable leads have been developed.”

On January 19, the sheriff’s department released a statement saying, “On January 15, 2023, phone pings showed Sands to be heading to the Mount Baldy area. Additional phone pings from the cell provider were attempted but were unsuccessful, due to the lack of cell service and most likely cell phone power failure. A delayed ping through Sands’ Apple iPhone operating system, from January 14, 2023, provided a possible location on one of the trails leading to the summit of Mount Baldy. This area was checked by ground searchers and by helicopter. Ground and air searchers were unable to locate any evidence in this area that would assist in locating Mr. Sands. Because of avalanche risks and trail conditions, the ground crews were pulled off the mountain on Saturday evening.  However, the search continues by helicopter and drones when the weather permits. Additional ground searches will be scheduled when the weather improves, and it is safe for our rescue crews.”

The sheriff’s dept. said the other missing hiker, Gregory, whose disappearance is apparently unrelated to Sands’, was lost in the Crystal Lake area of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Sands, 65, the star of 1985’s “A Room with a View” with more than 150 film and television credits, is an avid hiker. He lives in North Hollywood.

Over the last four weeks S.B. County Sheriff’s search and rescue teams have responded to 14 emergency calls at Mt. Baldy and the surrounding area for lost, stranded and injured hikers. Two of those people did not survive. The Courier reported on the most recent death, of Crystal Paula Gonzalez-Landas, on January 10. Gonzalez-Landas died after falling down the more than 8,000-foot in elevation Baldy Bowl.

The sheriff’s department issued a warning for hikers to take extreme care climbing around the Mt. Baldy area, as recent storms and high winds blowing snow and ice have made hiking very dangerous. It included asking anyone hiking in the area to follow basic safety guidelines, including making sure you have the proper gear, training and preparation for alpine conditions; do not hike alone; be aware of weather conditions and the forecast for the rest of the day before heading out; heed all posted warning signs; bring a GPS tracking device; fully charge your phone; and let somebody know exactly where you are headed.



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