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Body believed to be that of missing hiker is found on Mt. Baldy

December 09, 2010|By Shan Li | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County crews retrieved Thursday the body believed to be missing hiker Michelle Yu from Mount Baldy.

Medics and a coroner from Los Angeles County were dropped by helicopter to an area northwest of the summit, known as Fish Fork, to retrieve the body thought to be the 49-year-old experienced hiker from Venice, said Jodi Miller, a spokeswoman with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The body was hoisted back to the landing zone used during the five-day search-and-rescue effort at about 10:25 a.m. and was en route to the Los Angeles County coroner's office, Miller said.

Although clothing and physical descriptions match Yu, a positive identification and cause of death will be determined later by the coroner, Miller said.

Although the time of the autopsy has yet to be finalized, it will likely take place Friday, said Lt. Brian Elias of the coroner's office. Search-and-rescue crews have speculated that fog and otherwise poor conditions at the peak might have confused the hiker, causing her to take a wrong turn, slip and fall, Miller said. The retrieval team had to be airlifted to the site because the "terrain is not safe enough to hike up," she said. Yu signed the log book at the Sierra Hut Trail head about 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

She had planned to hike Baldy Peak and then walk to Baldy Notch, where she would have taken the ski lift down the mountain. U.S. Forest Service officials found Yu's vehicle near the intersection of Mt. Baldy and Falls roads. Dozens of search-and-rescue volunteers from San Bernardino, Los Angeles and San Diego counties had searched for Yu for days.

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