MT. BALDY, Calif. (KABC) -- A search and rescue mission on Mt. Baldy developed into a recovery operation on Sunday night after the body of 75-year-old man was discovered.
Raymond Kopecky had set out on a hike Saturday afternoon. When he failed to return, his family and friends alerted authorities.
"The friends had it pretty narrowed down where he should have been so it was pretty easy for us to start up a path," said Eric Vetere, a commander with West Valley Search and Rescue.
West Valley Search and Rescue was sent to search for Kopecky. The all-volunteer group, which is highly trained in mountain rescue, hiked into the area with the information they received.
Kopecky's body was found down a steep cliff on Sugarloaf Peak, where he had apparently fallen to his death.
Due to the time of day and dangerous terrain, the search and rescue team decided to camp overnight.
"We were in contact with our aviation team and we'll at first light, 6:30 in the morning, we'll get the rescue helicopter heading your way to get everybody out," said Vetere.
Kopecky was an avid local hiker who documented his enthusiasm for the sport on his personal website. His body was hoisted out of the area, where he had hiked in the past, by San Bernardino County Sheriff's helicopter.
The recovery effort a reminder of how unpredictable and dangers Mtn Baldy's terrain can be, even for experienced hikers.
"We are up there with all intents of rescuing somebody and getting them out, but we also know at some point we may be doing a recovery," said Vetere.
West Valley Search and Rescue says its best to hike with others and to bring along extra food and clothing, including a flash light and charged cellphone, in case a day hike turns into something more.