The mystery of Hollywood star Julian Sands, who disappeared while hiking in Southern California in January, has ended tragically.
Human remains uncovered in a remote part of the San Gabriel Mountains were “positively identified” as Sands’ by San Bernardino police on Tuesday, June 27. Since January, the 65-year-old British actor, famed for A Room With a View and The Ki!!ing Fields had been missing. Evgenia Citkowitz and three children survived him.
Sands hiked Mount Baldy alone on January 13. Sands told The New York Times he had ascended the peak 200 times. “I like it in winter,” he noted in My City, My Los Angeles (2013). Winter conditions add intrigue.
Later that day, an atmospheric river blanketed Southern California, battering the top with high winds and snow. Officials searched for Sands after he failed to return home. Sands was searched for days using mobile phone location data.
Authorities confirm that actor Julian Sands p@ssed away while ascending a California mountain:
RIP Julian Sands (1958-2023) pic.twitter.com/1kiUjALP6e
— Michael Warburton (@MichaelWarbur17) June 27, 2023
Initial searches included helicopters and drones. Owing to avalanche hazards, the ground search was halted due to inclement weather.
Seven winter and spring searches for Sands yielded no results. 80 people and a helicopter crew searched the mountain for him on June 17.
Sands’ family made a statement after that mission failed. “We continue to hold Julian in our hearts with bright memories of him as a wonderful father, husband, explorer, lover of the natural world and the arts, and as an original and collaborative performer,” the family wrote.
On June 24, a hiker reported human remains on the mountain, ending the hunt. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department examined the remains. Death was undetermined.
#BREAKING Missing hiker Jin Chung has been found alive. He is responsive and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Chung went missing Sunday after heading to #MtBaldy.@KTLA pic.twitter.com/98GSnFdpK9
— Shelby Nelson (@KTLAShelby) January 25, 2023
Sands’ disappearance on Mount Baldy highlighted the risks of the renowned summit. The same day, Robert Gregory of Hawthorne, California, disappeared and was found dead three weeks later. In the weeks before Sands disappeared, officials responded to 14 Mount Baldy rescue calls, according to the New York Times.
Southern California hikers visit the summit due to its proximity to downtown Los Angeles. Mount Baldy’s unstable, rocky terrain and high altitude cause rescues and deaths. The 11.3-mile summit loop crosses narrow, exposed drop-offs and is regularly buffeted by heavy winds.
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“Put all that together—cold temperatures, high winds, steep, exposed, slippery terrain, and the potential for snow—and make it proximate and easy to access to all 24 million people who live across the SoCal urban conurbation, and you can see why rescues, injuries, and deaths are inevitable,” wrote Outside columnist Wes Siler in January. “Put enough people in situations with even a little risk, and the numbers add up.”