By Lyn Taylor
MT BALDY– Icy conditions made the U.S. Forest Service shut down popular Mt. Baldy hiking trails after about a dozen injured and stranded hikers had to be airlifted from the trail on Saturday alone, according to aMt. Baldy Fire Department Twitter post. Since Friday, about two dozen people have been flown out of the mountain area due to hiking incidents, officials said. Baldy Bowl, Bear Flats, Icehouse Canyon, the Three Ts, Chapman and Devil’s Backbone trails are closed, according to a Forest Service spokeswoman.
“At one point we had four different helicopters going up here on Saturday,” said Mt Baldy Fire Department Captain Gordon Green. “One came back at least twice.”
During an earlier rescue of five stranded hikers, the sheriff’s department was advised about a married couple, Dong Xing “Tony” Liu and Linda Duan, who were hiking near the Icehouse Canyon Saddle, and who had both slipped on ice. A sheriff’s helicopter was already in the area and started searching the canyon.
Two hikers who were also in the area heard the couple’s cries for help and made their way down the steep terrain to the pair. The good Samaritans kept Duan warm while waiting for the rescue helicopter. The victims were stuck on an icy slope under a fallen tree, and rescuers were able to conduct a night hoist rescue using night vision goggles. Ms. Duan was transported to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a broken arm. Mr. Liu sustained fatal injuries as a result of the fall and was pronounced dead at 8:12 p.m.
Liu, 47, was the just the latest person to die on the trails. Only four days earlier, 23-year-old Daniel Nguyen, a Cal State Long Beach graduate, fell to his death while trying to help a friend who had slipped on the Devil’s Backbone Trail.
The trail conditions must be evaluated before they can be reopened, according to MBFD officials.
“Anyone planning a trip up here should check with the U.S. Forest Service first,” Green advised. “Find out about the conditions and if the trails have been opened and always be prepared.”