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Sherman Oaks Woman Is 1 of 2 Found Dead in Ravine

Times Staff Writer

One of two bodies found Wednesday in a snowy ravine in Angeles National Forest was identified by authorities Thursday as that of Christine M. Spezzano, 22, of Sherman Oaks.

A second body, believed to be that of Spezzano’s boyfriend, Kenneth Jamir, 28, of Sherman Oaks had not been positively identified Thursday night, a coroner’s spokesman said.

Spezzano was a district sales representative in Glendale for USA Today. She was the daughter of Vincent Spezzano of Rochester, N.Y., Northeast regional president of Gannett Newspapers and publisher of the Democrat and Chronicle and Times-Union in Rochester.

She died of injuries complicated by exposure, apparently after the couple slid down a frozen 850-foot trail called an ice chute.

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Car Abandoned

Spezzano’s abandoned car had been found about 10 a.m. Wednesday on Angeles Crest Highway by a helicopter crew, Sheriff’s Sgt. Santo Marino said. The body was found late Wednesday afternoon.

The car, a 1984 brown Pontiac Firebird, was parked at Jarvis Lookout turnout, at an altitude of about 6,000 feet, Marino said. Spezzano’s purse was locked inside the car, which had a flat tire.

A helicopter search team later spotted the bodies, about 50 feet apart, in the snow at the bottom of a ravine, Marino said.

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Officers speculated that the couple first hoped to flag down a car on the lightly traveled highway, then decided to walk down the ravine to a picnic area. They evidently lost their footing and fell down the trail, which after the recent snowfall was a sheet of ice that concealed sharp rocks and boulders, Marino said.

“We don’t know if one fell and the other tried to come to their assistance,” Marino said. “Once you get in ice chutes, they’re pretty slick. There’s no stopping till you hit something or hit bottom.”

John Sweeney, who shared a Sherman Oaks condominium with the couple, said neither Spezzano nor Jamir was an experienced hiker.

Friends said the couple enjoyed the outdoors and often visited the mountains.

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“They liked to drive. That’s what they did on Sunday,” Sweeney said.

Sunday’s trip was the couple’s first glimpse at the season’s snow, Sweeney said. The outing had been inspired by friends who had visited the forest several days earlier.

Sweeney said the couple met three years ago in Florida when both worked for USA Today. In January they drove from Cocoa Beach, Fla., to Los Angeles.

In October, Jamir began a job as a serviceman trainee for Roto-Rooter but hoped to become a film industry sound engineer, Sweeney said.

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