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Hikers who found remains of ‘Warlock’ actor Julian Sands speak out for potentially lifesaving teachable moment

76th Venice International Film Festival 2019
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The hikers who found the remains of actor Julian Sands on June 24 on California’s Mt. Baldy, five months after the actor went missing, are speaking out. 

Although an autopsy was inconclusive, the hikers spoke to the Los Angeles Times about what outdoor adventurers can do to avoid his fate.

Sands, 65, went missing in the winter, amid snowy and icy conditions that made the already dangerous hike deadly. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department led eight exhaustive searches for him, but came up empty. 

The hikers knew the location of Sands’ last cellphone “ping” and figured Goode Canyon was likely the spot he’d end up if he’d slipped from the trail or got disoriented. One of their party found a boot, then the rest located bones and Sands’ wallet, containing the driver’s license they used to identify him.

His cellphone was found perched on a rock, likely in a vain effort to get a signal. 

They also found that Sands wasn’t wearing a helmet. They noted he was dressed “like a ninja,” according to Bill Dwyer, one of the search party.

Bright clothing would have made him easier to spot.

Also, Sands wasn’t carrying a backpack with gear or ice axes. He’d used small studded appliances called microspikes on his boots, not crampons that could have given him traction on the ice. 

Dwyer said he was “shocked” at that. “They were just the wrong tools for the job at hand.”

Sands had no way to get in touch with rescuers. The hikers’ satellite phone, however, saw reinforcements heading to them within minutes. 

“Can you imagine the despair, the isolation?” said the group’s organizer, who wanted to remain anonymous.  “Hearing the helicopters, knowing people are looking for you, but having no way to signal to them. I still have nightmares about that.”

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