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Two hikers on Southern California’s Mount Baldy found the body of a man who had gone missing more than six months ago.

Sree Mokkapati. (Via San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office) 

The remains of Sreenivas Mokkapati, 52, of Irvine, were found on June 19 and were identified on Saturday by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner, said a press release from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office.

Mokkapati had been reported missing on December 8 after his friends turned back on the trail to 10,069-foot summit of Mount Baldy — officially Mount San Antonio, the highest peak in Los Angeles County.

Search-and-rescue volunteers from 10 counties took part in the search of the rugged, snowy terrain. On December 14, one of those volunteers — 32-year-old Timothy Staples — died in a fall down an ice chute. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department decided to call off the ground search because of the risk.

Aerial searches continued through the winter and spring, and ground searches resumed last month.

The body was found at 7,800 feet elevation near the top of Fish Fork, a tributary of the San Gabriel River. That area is north of the summit of Mount Baldy; Mokkapati’s party had come from the south and intended to return by the same route.

Mokkapati, an experienced hiker, and his three companions had planned to hike to the summit via the less-used Bear Flat Trail, a strenuous 13-mile out-and-back. He was dressed for the winter temperatures but had supplies only for a day hike.

At some point, the three others decided to turn back because of the snow on the trail. Mokkapati said he would continue to the summit and meet them back at the trailhead.

When he did not show up  that evening, the others reported him missing.


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Author: Bay Area News Group

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