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Body found on Mt. Baldy may be missing hiker

December 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Authorities believe they've found the body of a hiker who had been missing for four days on Mt. Baldy.Officials said they still need to conduct an autopsy to determine if the body is that of Michelle Yu.

A helicopter crew found the body on Wednesday as they were flying over a very rugged area known as "fish fork." A paramedic was lowered to confirm the victim was a female wearing the same type of clothing that Yu was supposed to be wearing at the time she went missing.

The body was removed Thursday morning. Officials hope that an autopsy will determine the identity and cause of death.

Crews had been looking for Yu ever since she was reported missing by her roommate on Sunday.

Friends and family describe Yu, 49, as a very experienced hiker who knew the conditions she would be dealing with. They said she was always prepared for those conditions. Yu was training for an upcoming hiking expedition in South America.

Yu left to go hiking in and around Mt. Baldy on Saturday, which was around the same time that a storm moved through the area, bringing wind and rain to the lower elevations.

Search crews said the conditions could catch the most experienced hiker off guard.

"It could be clear down on the flat lands, but the weather can just, you know, cover the mountain and it will be completely different on the top," said Dep. Cindy England of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The weather was not the only issue. The rugged terrain also posed a threat. Rescuers said it was extremely icy in the area where the body was found.

"We had certified Alpine searchers in that area. There was snow and a lot of ice, both on the summit and down that north side of the mountain where the victim was located," said Jodi Miller of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The body was found right on the county line separating Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Both sheriff's departments took part in the recovery effort.


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