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Search for hiker ends with grim discovery

July 30, 2012

Thomas Heng

Search and rescue crews have located what they believe to be the body of missing San Rafael hiker Thomas Heng, 31.
Inyo County Deputy Coroner Jeff Mullenhour said he expected to positively identify the body and possibly establish a cause of death before the end of the day Friday, but that information was not available as of press time.
A multi-agency search effort was initiated Monday morning after Inyo County authorities were notified that Heng had not returned for a solo hike to Mt. Langley that afternoon.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Public Information Officer Dana Dierkes said the body was located in the Old Army Pass area late Wednesday afternoon by a multi-agency search team.
“It was a combination of ground and helicopter search crews who were able to narrow down the search and locate the body,” Dierkes said.
Hang was supposed to take a day hike to Mt. Langley on Sunday, and was last seen at about 13,000 feet on the trail at about 1 p.m.
His route was to include taking the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead through New Army Pass to the summit of Langley, with a return to the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead.
Dierkes said Old Army Pass was not believed to be part of Heng’s planned route, but rescue crews decided to expand the search into the area, in case the hiker had become lost or disoriented.
Assisting Inyo County Search and Rescue and the two parks with the search effort were the China Lake Mountain Rescue Group, Friends of Yosemite Search and Rescue, Inyo National Forest, Manzanar National Historic Site, Montrose Search and Rescue, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue, Tulare County Sheriff’s Department and Yosemite National Park.

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