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Monday, January 30, 2023

New avalanche fears prevent ground search for Brit actor Julian Sands in the San Gabriel mountains

As the search for missing British actor Julian Sands continues, stars including Matthew Modine and Jon Cryer have posted messages of hope that he is found alive. 

Sands, 65, was reported missing on a hiking trip in the Baldy Bowl area of the San Gabriel mountains at around 19:30 local time on January 13, as searches by local authorities continue by ‘helicopter and drones when weather permits’.

On Friday, January 21, ground crews were still unable to continue the search for Sands due to the avalanche risk in the area. 

The search has been heightened of late as officials use mobile phone forensics to help pinpoint the location of the actor.

Pictured: Julian Sands and wife Evgenia Citkowitz. Sands, 65, was reported missing on a hiking trip in the Baldy Bowl area of the San Gabriel mountains at around 19:30 local time on January 13, as searches by local authorities continue by ‘helicopter and drones when weather permits’

Images sent from Sands to his grandson Billy in September, show the father of three using climbing gear including ropes, wearing a helmet and with a rucksack strapped tightly to his back

Sands, 65, was reported missing during a hiking trip in the Baldy Bowl area of the San Gabriel mountains at about 19:30 local time on January 13

Images sent from Sands to his grandson Billy in September, show the father of three using climbing gear including ropes, wearing a helmet and with a rucksack strapped tightly to his back. Sands, 65, was reported missing during a hiking trip in the Baldy Bowl area of the San Gabriel mountains at about 19:30 local time on January 13

Jon Cryer posted a message on January 19

Jon Cryer posted a message on January 19 

Matthew Modine also tweeted a message of hope on January 19

Matthew Modine also tweeted a message of hope on January 19

‘There has been no new update or witness information about his whereabouts since then,’ Gloria Huerta, Public Information Officer for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department told the BBC on Friday.

‘The air search is being resumed, but we have not been able to resume a ground search yet due to icy conditions and a threat of avalanches,’ said Huerta. 

Cryer tweeted: ‘I am hoping against hope that this will turn out to be just another one of his adventures. I’m so sorry for his family and friends going through this.’

Modine tweeted: ‘#JulianSands is a wonderful man, husband, father, and friend to so so many.

‘A gentle, kind soul. Keep candles burning for his safe return from the mountain he loves.’

Fellow mountain climber Sarah Crosby shared a tribute yesterday. 

‘Praying for Julian Sands, who we got to know on Mt. Kilimanjaro,’ she wrote on Twitter.  

‘He regaled us with Shakespeare and Keats and was the first person to capture us as an engaged couple. He even carried a hunk of the mountain down to present to us. He is such a beautiful soul.’

The weather is currently around 3°C (38°F). There is a high wind warning for Southwestern California, with official guidance reading: ‘Damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines. Power outages are possible. Travel will be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles.’

On Friday a spokesman for the department also said: ‘On January 15, 2023, phone pings showed Sands to be heading to the Mount Baldy area.

‘Additional phone pings from the cell provider were attempted but were unsuccessful, due to the lack of cell service and most likely cell phone power failure.

‘A delayed ping through Sands’ Apple iPhone operating system, from January 14, 2023, provided a possible location on one of the trails leading to the summit of Mount Baldy. This area was checked by ground searchers and by helicopter.

‘Ground and air searchers were unable to locate any evidence in this area that would assist in locating Mr. Sands. Because of avalanche risks and trail conditions, the ground crews were pulled off the mountain on Saturday evening.

‘However, the search continues by helicopter and drones when the weather permits. Additional ground searches will be scheduled when the weather improves, and it is safe for our rescue crews.’

Sands is known for his roles in popular film and television shows, including A Room With A View, 24 and Smallville.

He has three children, and lives in the North Hollywood neighbourhood of Los Angeles with his wife, writer Evgenia Citkowitz. 

Police had previously said that they plan to continue looking for Sands, and there is ‘no hard deadline’ for ending their search mission.

They initially said phone pings appeared to show he was on the move two days after he was reported missing. 

Sands, 65, was reported missing by his family after disappearing in the dangerous mountain range. He is pictured in a recent image released by his family to police to aid the search

Sands, 65, was reported missing by his family after disappearing in the dangerous mountain range. He is pictured in a recent image released by his family to police to aid the search

The region is home to some of the most popular trails in Los Angeles, California

The region is home to some of the most popular trails in Los Angeles, California

They later clarified that these alerts were delayed and showed his movements on the day he went missing.

Police retrieved important phone data, showing that the West Yorkshire-born actor was still on the move on Sunday 15 January – but they have not been able to pick up any signal since due to his battery running low.

Last Thursday, Julian’s family towed his car from a car park where it was discovered during the search.

Adverse weather conditions also saw ground crews pulled off the mountain last Saturday evening.

The San Bernardino county sheriff’s department confirmed Friday the current search is being conducted by helicopter only due to the risk of avalanche in the region.

Authorities have given ‘no time set’ for when ground searches will resume.

But Huerta added there was no timeline for ending the search at present, either.

The incident is still being classified as a search and rescue operation.

As California has been buffeted by winter storms, weather conditions in the mountain have inhibited attempts to assist missing and injured hikers, including Sands. 

Rescue crews looking for Sands on the ground had to be pulled off the mountain on Saturday night because of the dangerous weather. 

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department previously warned hikers to ‘think twice and heed warnings’ as weather conditions in the area worsened.

The department reported its search and rescue teams had responded to 14 calls on and around Mount Baldy over the last four weeks.

Actor Julian Sands was reported missing on 13 January after failing to return from a hiking trip

Actor Julian Sands was reported missing on 13 January after failing to return from a hiking trip

Sands and Helena Bonham Carter on set for the award-winning 1985 film A Room With A View

Sands and Helena Bonham Carter on set for the award-winning 1985 film A Room With A View

Sands' first major production was 1984's The Killing Fields, the acclaimed historical drama about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (pictured alongside John Malkovich)

Sands’ first major production was 1984’s The Killing Fields, the acclaimed historical drama about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (pictured alongside John Malkovich)

Julian’s son Henry – himself an experienced hiker – flew out to California last weekend and is assisting with the search of Mount Baldy.

Henry, 37, is understood to have retraced the route his father took – some 40-miles from Los Angeles – but was also forced to abandon his efforts due to poor weather.

A relative told MailOnline on Friday: ‘Henry has been in the U.S since the weekend and is helping the search. The problem is that the weather is hampering rescue efforts.

‘We are extremely worried but we’re hoping that Julian will be found safe and well. We’ll be looking to see how things evolve over the next few days.’

Sands went missing after California had been pummeled for weeks by treacherous storms, sparking an emergency declaration by US President Joe Biden.

Police said they had responded to 14 calls from Mount San Antonio, known to locals as Mount Baldy, in the last four weeks and had warned hikers to ‘stay away’ from that area.

‘It is extremely dangerous and even experienced hikers are getting in trouble,’ police said.

The phone belonging to Sands appears to show he was on the move heading into a mountainous area in southern California on the day he was reported missing.

Federal and state agencies in the United States said Friday they would join the search amid worsening weather conditions and avalanche risks which have halted the work of ground crews.

Phone signals two days after the Room with a View star, 65, was reported missing showed Sands around one of the trails leading to the summit of Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel mountains in southern California, police revealed.

Police said they had found his car near where he was reported missing.

Sands has spoken previously about his love for hiking and mountain climbing, and said in 2020 he was happiest ‘close to a mountain summit on a glorious cold morning’.

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