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Hiker dies, several hurt in falls near Mt. Baldy over weekend

A 45-year-old hiker died Saturday after falling about 1,500 feet down a mountainside from a trail near Mt. Baldy, authorities said.

During the weekend, at least two others were injured after sliding several hundred feet down the mountainside from nearby trails.

Shortly after 2 p.m. on Saturday, a helicopter rescue crew from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department arrived at Mt. Harwood, just east of Mt. Baldy.

The man, a resident of San Diego, was hiking on the north-facing side of Mt. Harwood near the Devil’s Backbone trail when he fell about 1,500 feet down a “very narrow, steep ice chute,” said sheriff’s Cpl. Mike Ells, who was in the helicopter for the rescue.

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To reach the hiker, the sheriff’s helicopter had to maneuver a narrow canyon in which the helicopter blades were about 10 feet from the mountainside, Ells said.

A rescue medic was lowered 70 feet to the man, who was hiking with two others, all of whom were wearing crampons, Ells said. Crampons are metal spikes that attach to boots and provide traction for icy, treacherous trails.

The man had major injuries and was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where he was pronounced dead. His name was not released pending notification of his family, according to a statement from the San Bernardino County coroner's office.

The Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that it is investigating the hiker’s death.

Earlier Saturday, a man hiking near the Cucamonga Trail and Icehouse Saddle slid head-first about 900 feet down the mountainside. At some point, he hit a tree and was knocked unconscious, Ells said.  The man had been wearing snow chains on his boots, which provide moderate traction for winter conditions. 

The man was rescued via helicopter and was taken to a hospital in serious but stable condition, Ells said.

On Sunday about 3 p.m., a woman fell about 300 feet near the Icehouse Canyon and Cucamonga Trail, Ells said. Her fall was stopped when she hit a clump of pine trees.

She was rescued at an elevation of 7,200 feet and was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, including scrapes and burns, Ells said. She had been wearing chains on her boots.

Earlier this month, a pair of deaths and a slew of rescues prompted officials at Angeles National Forest to shut down several trails.

On Feb. 2, 23-year-old Daniel Nguyen slipped and fell 1,500 feet to his death after struggling to help a friend on the Devil’s Backbone trail. The Sheriff's Department said it took nearly three hours in ice, snow and wind to retrieve his body.

On Feb. 6, Dong Xing Liu, 47,  slipped and fell of the side of Icehouse Saddle and died of his injuries. His wife, who had been hiking with him, also fell but survived with major injuries to her lower body, sheriff’s officials said.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.

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