United States

California Hiker’s Body Recovered On Mount Baldy After Harrowing Search

The harrowing search for 22-year-old Lefei Huang, who went missing while hiking on Mount Baldy during treacherous weather conditions last weekend, has come to a tragic end.

File photo

The search for Lefei Huang, a 22-year-old woman who went missing while hiking on Mount Baldy during treacherous weather conditions, has tragically ended with the discovery of her lifeless body.

Huang was found by a person operating a drone in the area around 3:25 pm PT on Saturday, according to officials from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Despite the efforts of deputies and a search and rescue team, the hazardous conditions on the mountain prohibited them from reaching Huang's believed location. Aviation crews were also unable to assist due to high winds. As night fell, search and rescue team members remained near the site to preserve the scene, indicating the challenges faced in the search and recovery mission.

On Sunday morning, a rescue helicopter successfully lowered medics to the area where Huang was located, confirming her tragic fate. Her body, along with the medics, was airlifted off the mountain. Officials had initially stated that Huang had embarked on her hike at 2 pm on Sunday, February 4, and was last heard from around 4 pm that day.

Recovery efforts faced significant obstacles due to the extreme weather conditions, including heavy snowfall and avalanche risks. These challenges underscored the dangerous environment that persisted on Mount Baldy during the search operation.

The weather conditions during the search were part of a broader weather event affecting California, as an atmospheric river brought heavy rain, snow, and flooding to the region. Los Angeles, approximately 50 miles southwest of Mount Baldy, experienced its wettest day in nearly two decades on February 4, receiving approximately a month's worth of rain in a single day.

Tragically, Huang's death adds to the toll of weather-related fatalities in the state during this powerful storm. Before her discovery, at least nine other deaths had been recorded due to the adverse weather conditions.

Mount Baldy has previously been the scene of other incidents, highlighting the dangers of outdoor activities in the area. In one instance, a woman spent four nights trapped in her car after plummeting to the bottom of a California canyon. Additionally, British actor Julian Sands was found dead on the mountain in June 2023 after going missing on a hike earlier that year.

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