La Crescenta mourns another son

Hamlet Nalbandyan

GLENDALE -- The La Crescenta community has suffered another loss.

James Jenkins, 19, a star boys' basketball player and swimmer at

Crescenta Valley High School from 1998 to 2001, was found dead Thursday

after apparently falling while hiking with his father, Dr. Horace

Jenkins, in June Lake near Yosemite National Park.

James Jenkins -- who recently completed his freshman year at San Jose

State University, where he was a member of the men's basketball team --

had separated from his father early Wednesday morning.

According to the Mono County Sheriff's Department, an overdue hiker

was reported at approximately 9:26 p.m. Wednesday.

A search of the area was conducted by the Mono County Search and

Rescue Team through the night, with assistance from a Naval Air Station

Fallon helicopter and flight crew, the report stated.

Jenkins' body finally was located at the bottom of Rush Creek Falls at

around 1:55 p.m. Thursday by search and rescue team members.

According to Shannon Kendall, public information officer for the Mono

County Sheriff's Department, no other information about the incident was

available late Friday. The Mono County coroner's office conducted an

autopsy Friday and is continuing its investigation.

Jenkins' friends and family were stunned.

"James was a kind, considerate, hard-working young man who cared about

the people around him," said Jim Smiley, Jenkins' basketball coach at

Crescenta Valley High School.

"It's a loss that's tough on us all."

Family and friends have been gathered at the Jenkins' household since

Thursday. According to Smiley, all the members of the basketball team

from the past two years have shown up to offer support.

The family released a statement to the News-Press that read: "The

Jenkins family would like to thank the CV community for their love and

support. This overwhelming response has given our family strength. James

was proud to be a Falcon and proud to be a part of this community."

In addition to other honors, Jenkins was a two-time News-Press Male

Athlete of the Year.

According to Nancy Upham, who handles public affairs for the Inyo

National Forest, the fall to the bottom of Rush Creek Falls is about 120


"It's very steep," said Upham, who has been working at the forest for

16 years. "In all my time here, I can't remember an incident like this.

This is very unusual."

Jenkins' death is the third in recent years involving a former

Crescenta Valley High male athlete.

Baseball player John Barbaro was killed in a train accident on April

29, 2001. He was 19. On June 26, 1999, basketball player Danny Morris

collapsed at his house and passed away. He was 20.

"This community has taken a real hit the past few years," Smiley said.

"I just wish it would stop. It doesn't seem right."

A funeral service for Jenkins is planned at 2 p.m. June 8 in the

Crescenta Valley High auditorium.

He is survived by his mother, Mary, father Horace, brothers John and

Jason and sister Mary Ellen.

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