Mount Baldy, also known as Mount San Antonio, is the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains in California. It is a popular destination for hikers, skiers, and nature lovers. However, it can also be a dangerous place, especially during winter storms. This is what happened to Lee Faye Wong, a 32-year-old woman from El Monte, who went missing on Mount Baldy on Feb. 4, 2024, and was found dead a week later.
How Did Lee Faye Wong Go Missing?
Lee Faye Wong was an avid hiker who loved the outdoors. She had hiked Mount Baldy several times before, and was familiar with the trails. On Feb. 4, 2024, she decided to hike the mountain alone, despite the weather forecast of heavy snow and strong winds. She left her car at the Manker Flats trailhead, and started her hike around 8 a.m.
She was last seen by another hiker around 1 p.m., near the summit of Mount Baldy. She was wearing a pink jacket, black pants, and a black backpack. She told the hiker that she was going to descend the mountain via the Devil’s Backbone trail, a steep and narrow ridge that connects the summit to the Baldy Notch ski area.
However, she never made it to the ski area, nor did she return to her car. Her family reported her missing the next day, when she failed to show up for work.
What Was the Search and Rescue Effort Like?
The search and rescue effort for Lee Faye Wong was hampered by the harsh weather conditions and the rugged terrain. More than 100 volunteers from various agencies, including the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the San Gabriel Valley Search and Rescue Team, participated in the search. They used helicopters, drones, dogs, and snowshoes to comb the mountain for any signs of Wong.
The search was suspended several times due to the risk of avalanches, hypothermia, and frostbite. The searchers also faced low visibility, strong winds, and deep snow. Some of the searchers suffered injuries, such as sprains and fractures, while looking for Wong.
The search lasted for seven days, until Feb. 11, 2024, when Wong’s body was finally found by a helicopter crew near the Devil’s Backbone trail, about a mile from the summit. She was buried under several feet of snow, and showed signs of trauma. The coroner’s office later confirmed that she died of hypothermia and blunt force injuries.
What Was the Reaction to Lee Faye Wong’s Death?
Lee Faye Wong’s death was met with shock and sadness by her family, friends, and the hiking community. She was described as a kind, cheerful, and adventurous person, who loved to travel and explore new places. She worked as a financial analyst, and had a degree in accounting from the University of California, Los Angeles. She was also a volunteer for the American Red Cross, and had helped with disaster relief efforts in the past.
Her family and friends held a memorial service for her at the Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, where they shared their memories and tributes. They also thanked the search and rescue teams for their efforts, and urged other hikers to be careful and prepared when hiking on Mount Baldy.
- Q: Why did Lee Faye Wong hike alone on Mount Baldy?
- A: Lee Faye Wong was an experienced hiker who had hiked Mount Baldy several times before. She enjoyed hiking alone, as it gave her a sense of freedom and challenge. She also believed that she was well-equipped and prepared for the hike, as she had checked the weather forecast and the trail conditions before she left.
- Q: How did Lee Faye Wong die on Mount Baldy?
- A: Lee Faye Wong died of hypothermia and blunt force injuries on Mount Baldy. She likely got lost or disoriented in the snowstorm, and fell off the Devil’s Backbone trail, which is a steep and narrow ridge that can be treacherous in bad weather. She was buried under several feet of snow, and was unable to survive the freezing temperatures.