California mountain rescuers search for British actor Julian Sands
Los Angeles (AFP) – Rescuers battling difficult weather were searching Thursday for British actor Julian Sands who went missing while hiking on a California mountain.
Sands, who shot to fame as Helena Bonham Carter’s love interest in 1985’s “Room with a View,” disappeared almost a week ago on the 10,000-foot (3,000-meter) Mount San Antonio, just outside of Los Angeles.
Deputies from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department began searching for him after the alarm was raised on Friday evening.
Signals from his mobile phone were received throughout the weekend, they said, giving possible clues to his whereabouts, but searches on the ground and from the air proved fruitless.
Much of California has been battered by weeks of atmospheric rivers that have brought heavy precipitation, including deep snow to mountain ranges.
“Because of avalanche risks and trail conditions, the ground crews were pulled off the mountain on Saturday evening,” San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said Thursday.
“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, 65, is an experienced hiker who has previously described himself as happiest “close to a mountain summit on a glorious cold morning.”
In the early 1990s he hiked through the Andes mountain range, getting caught in a storm above 20,000 feet.
Mount San Antonio, known locally as Mount Baldy, is the highest peak in the San Gabriel mountains and a popular destination for inhabitants of Los Angeles, but recent weather has made it treacherous.
Search and rescue teams from the sheriff’s department have been involved in more than a dozen missions on the mountain in the last few weeks.
At least two people are known to have perished, with one woman sliding up to 700 feet down an icy slope, reports said.
San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department urged people to steer clear of the wilder parts of the mountain.
“It is extremely dangerous even for the skilled hiker. Current weather conditions and low cloud coverage makes it very difficult to deploy resources to that area when a hiker goes missing,” a statement said.
Sands, who grew up in Yorkshire, in the north of England, moved to Los Angeles after his breakout role as the plain-speaking George Emerson in the 1985 adaptation of EM Forster’s novel.
In a varied subsequent career, he appeared in films as diverse as Frank Marshall’s 1990 spider-themed horror romp “Arachnophobia,” David Cronenberg’s controversial “Naked Lunch” and alcohol-soaked 1995 drama “Leaving Las Vegas,” directed by Mike Figgis and starring Nicolas Cage.
Sands also starred in “Warlock” (1989) and a 1998 adaptation of “The Phantom of the Opera” as the title character.
Movie industry colleagues have taken to Twitter to air their hopes that he will be found safe and well.
“#JulianSands is a wonderful man, husband, father, and friend to so so many,” actor Matthew Modine wrote.
“A gentle, kind soul. Keep candles burning for his safe return from the mountain he loves.”