Body Found on Mount Baldy After Apparent Hiking Fall

Second fatality since Saturday

The body spotted at the bottom of a steep Mount Baldy slope may be the hiker who has been missing since Saturday, authorities suspect. 

An aerial search for Yu Cheng Jia was launched Wednesday by the San Bernardino Sheriff's Dept after the Torrance resident was reported missing, and his car was found parked near the head of a trail that leads to the Baldy summit.  

That particular trail crosses a narrow ridge known as Devil's Backbone, which is slick with ice and snow and has steep drop-offs on both sides. It was at the bottom on the Lytle Creek side that a Sheriff's helicopter spotted the body.

Efforts to recover the body were suspended when conditions were deemed too dangerous. But Sheriff's deputies were planning to launch another attempt before dawn Thursday morning.

Jia has been working at the Harbor UCLA Medical Center, according to a friend who took part in the initial search for him.

His parents in China have been notified of the grim discovery and are traveling to meet with authorities. 

In another hiking accident Saturday, five hikers fell near Islip Saddle, and one of them died. 

In January, three hikers were rescued from an avalanche near Baldy Bowl, and another hiker who fell from Devil's Backbone was able to stop her slide by digging in her ice axe. 

Some hikers are suggesting that until conditions become less dangerous, Devil's Backbone and other icy trails on the slopes of Baldy should be closed, as the Angeles National Forest did in this area for a one week period a year ago.

With its summit at more than 10,000 feet, Mount Baldy is the highest peak in the Angeles Forest. 

Forest Personnel have issued warnings to hikers to avoid trails with ice and snow, according to spokesman Nathan Judy, but at this point the Forest Service is not contemplating any closures.

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