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Body found on Mt. Baldy; ID not determined

December 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Wednesday afternoon a body was spotted on the side of Mt. Baldy by a search team, according to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Dept. A medic was lowered by helicopter to where the body was located at about 7,900-feet level. The medic confirmed the person was deceased.Based on clothing and physical description, authorities believe that this may be Michelle Yu, said the sheriff's department. A positive identification and cause of death will be determined by the Los Angeles County Coroner.

Sheriff's Aviation will be assisting Los Angeles County Coroner with the removal of the body.

The body was found in the area northwest of the summit known as Fish Fork.

The search for Yu, who disappeared on Saturday on Mt. Baldy, was in its fourth day Wednesday.

Yu, 49, never returned home from her day hike. Her vehicle, a Toyota Prius, was found near Mt. Baldy Road in the Angeles National Forest, and her cell phone was found inside the car.

Yu is said to be an experienced hiker who was training for an upcoming trip to Argentina.

Search-and-rescue teams, along with helicopters, search dogs and dozens of volunteers, have been out scouring the rugged terrain for any sign of Yu, even well into the night when temperatures have dropped below freezing.

The search for Yu began Sunday after her roommate reported her missing.

"She really knows what to do. She's hiked up Mt. Whitney and all of these major mountains. That's her life," said John Gibson, Yu's roommate.

Authorities say they fear that Yu may have fallen and injured herself.

The other concern is the terrain. The thought is that Yu started her hike north of Baldy Village, heading northwest toward the summit. It's believed she was then going to turn east and hike along a ridge called the "Devil's Backbone." It's an area where the trail is only two feet wide in some spots, with an incredible steep drop down the north face.

"It's very treacherous, it's very steep," said San Bernardino County Sheriff's spokesperson Jodi Miller. "There are some points where it's basically up and down."

The search area covers 20 square miles.

Yu's family released a statement saying, "We are overwhelmd with concern for Michelle's well-being and ability to endure such inclement conditions; however, we remain hopeful that Michelle's experience, knowledge and pure strength of courage will help her survive this ordeal."

Miller said there have been situations where other hikers have walked out of areas after five or six days, so there was still hope Wednesday.


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