A group of hikers were recovering Thursday after an avalanche sent them tumbling down the snow-covered San Bernardino Mountains.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department received a call for help from hikers around midday in the Mount Baldy area, about 45 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Witnesses called authorities and the hikers had also activated their personal GPS tracker.
Footage from NewsChopper4 showed four men, some standing and one lying on the frozen snowpack. Fire officials said they were hiking along the ridgeline when the snow gave way, sending them tumbling 200 to 300 feet down the mountain.
Louis Wojciechowski was nearing the end of a hike to the top of Mount Baldy with two of his friends, Cody Ayala and Chris Chung. Wojciechowski said he didn't know the fourth hiker, who may have also been injured.
"The next thing you know we were all just hit by the snow and just spun in different directions. I got buried a little bit," said Wojciechowski, who managed to get only gashes on his thigh. "I thought I was going to die."
Ayala was airlifted to safety and appeared alert during the rescue. He suffered injuries to his ribs, the most serious of the group. Chung was also airlifted and only had minor lacerations to his leg.
MT BALDY: #SBCoFD responding to reported AVALANCHE in MtBaldyBowl. Hiker stuck half-way down. No reports of missing parties. ^eas— SB County Fire (@SBCOUNTYFIRE) January 26, 2017
"It happened so quick," Wojciechowski said. "We were all so shaken up."
Fire officials said the hikers were lucky to be alive. Wojciechowski is planning to hike Mount Baldy again as soon as his stitches heal.
"Can't just let something like that keep you from doing what you love," he said.
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The wilderness area featuring trails, ski runs and rugged terrain is among the parts of Southern California that received significant snowfall over that past few weeks.