Body of Hiker Missing Since Jan. 1 Is Found

Times Staff Writer

The body of a 53-year-old hiker missing since New Year’s Day on Mt. Baldy was found Saturday about 900 feet below where rescuers believed he had fallen, authorities said.

Chung Hun “Charles” Koh of Buena Park was the fourth person to die in San Bernardino County mountains -- and the second on Mt. Baldy -- in the last three weeks, officials said.

“For this early in the season, that is a disturbing number,” said San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokesman Chip Patterson.


Koh, an experienced hiker, left his wife and two children on a popular trail Jan. 1 to begin the long trek to Mt. Baldy’s peak on the Hut Trail with a male friend, authorities said. He made it to the top of the 10,064-foot mountain, which straddles the line between Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, and then fell about 2:30 p.m. on a narrow stretch of trail. His companion sought help.

The next day at 9,100 feet, rescuers found trace amounts of blood on the snow and a ski pole that Koh had been using as a hiking stick. They concentrated their search in the area where Koh fell and where he could have sought shelter from the cold. The body was later found farther down the mountain.

“He must have continued after that fall, because he was found some distance away,” Patterson said. “He must have fallen a second time.”

The body was discovered at 12:18 p.m. by the sheriff’s West Valley Search and Rescue Team at about 8,200 feet and airlifted off the mountain, Patterson said.

Authorities have not yet determined the cause of death.

Patterson advises lost hikers to stay where rescuers are most likely to search for them. “It’s a matter of people making errors in judgment,” he said. “If we launch a search and rescue, it’s much easier to find someone who is staying put.”

Koh was the first hiker reported missing in San Bernardino County this year and the last of four whose bodies have since been found by rescuers.


The body of Ali Aminian, 51, of Newbury Park was found Wednesday on Mt. Baldy, where he had apparently slipped on an icy trail and fallen more than 500 feet. He had been missing three days when discovered.

A week ago, Matthew L. Jones of San Bernardino tumbled to his death on the lip of a rocky cliff in the San Bernardino Mountains near Devore. And a 66-year-old Yucaipa man died Jan. 5 when he fell while ice climbing near Forest Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains.


Times staff writer Allison Hoffman contributed to this report