Hiker Falls 1,500 Feet To Death After Helping Friend On Mount Baldy
On Tuesday, a 23-year-old hiker fell more than 1,500 feet to his death on Mount Baldy, after reaching to try and keep his friend from slipping.
Daniel Nguyen, the man who fell, had recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach, where he majored in kinesiology and lived in Garden Grove. Following his graduation, Nguyen was planning to join FEMA and the Peace Corps, according to the Orange County Register.
Early Tuesday morning, Nguyen and two of his friends were hiking along the popular Devils Backbone Trail, ascending to the top of Mount Baldy (officially called Mount San Antonio). The trail climbs to the top of the highest peak in Los Angeles County, snaking its way up the mountain with significantly steep drops on either side
At around 7:40 a.m. Tuesday morning, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue received a call about Nguyen’s fall, according to the Long Beach Post. Although an aerial search and rescue team was able to locate Nguyen’s body by 9 a.m. heavy winds hampered their ability to reach him. A ground team was able to hike down to the body by about 5 p.m.
While the Devils Backbone trail is a relatively easy hike for experienced climbers during the summertime, recent storms mean the trail is covered with a significant amount of snow. Though the particular details behind Nguyen’s fall are not publicly known, it’s understood that the man lost his footing and slid down the side of the mountain after he himself reached out to try and prevent one of his friends from falling.
According to Cpl. Robert Whiteside, search-and-rescue coordinator of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Nguyen slid off the north side of the trail into a canyon near Stockton Flats.
Nguyen’s friends and family describe him as a selfless individual. Along with hiking, Nguyen was an avid cyclist who raced with the Cal State Long Beach collegiate team. He had recently taken a job as a courier with Maritime Bicycle Courier service, based in Long Beach
"I was really struggling on a climb and Daniel slowed down to ride with me and make sure I was okay," recalled Elaina Alvarez, a coworker at the courier service, to the Post. "He was always looking out for his teammates and friends. I am so lucky to have known Daniel and will miss him greatly. I will always remember his warm smile and kind heart. RIP Courier Ninja."