UPDATE: 7/1/20 – 0300 PT: On June 19, 2020, two hikers located human remains on the northwest side of Mount Baldy in Los Angeles County, near the top of Fish Fork at around 7800-feet. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recovered the body and the County Medical Examiner positively identified the remains to be Sreenivas “Sree” Mokkapati, on June 27.
Mr. Mokkapati was reported missing by his friends on December 8, 2019, after becoming separated from his group. The search continued daily with San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Volunteers along with search and rescue members from San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Tulare, Fresno, San Mateo, and Kern Counties. Helicopters from San Bernardino and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departments assisted in the search efforts.
On Saturday, December 14, 2019, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department – Search and Rescue team member Timothy Staples died while searching for Mr. Mokkapati. Staples was one of the 126 people working in 23 teams searching large sections of Mt. Baldy. He was a dedicated volunteer and a 9-year veteran with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department – Search and Rescue Team assigned to the West Valley Search and Rescue Unit.
The search operations that began on December 8, were suspended at that time due to weather conditions and treacherous terrain.
In the weeks that followed, aerial searches continued in hopes of locating Mr. Mokkapati. In May of this year, after the snow started to melt, ground search and rescue members returned to Mt. Baldy to search for Mr. Mokkapati.
The department would like to thank all the allied agencies for their assistance during this difficult search.
The hiking trails on Mount Baldy in the Angeles National Forest, CA have been shut down as crews continue to search for a hiker missing for 5-days, reports the LA Times.
52-year-old Sreenivas ‘Sree’ Mokkapati, from Irvine, has been missing since Sunday when he got separated from his group.
Mokkapati and his group started hiking from the Village at Bear Flats to the Mt. Baldy Summit on Sunday morning, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. At some point, Mokkapati became separated from the group. The three other members of his group alerted authorities once they arrived back at their car.
10 rescue teams and two helicopters have been searching for him since Sunday afternoon. Crews from Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties have also joined the search, authorities said. While there was no sign of Mokkapati, the rescue crews came across four other hikers who had been stranded in the snow or injured, prompting the emergency closure of the trails.
Mokkapati’s son, Shravan, says his father is an experienced hiker who regularly goes up Mount Baldy, however, he left only prepared for a day hike, not four days in the snow. Teams searched in snow-covered conditions at elevations of about 7,000 feet and in some higher elevations the snow is waist-deep, the department said.
Justin Williams was the last person to see him and took the above picture of Mokkapati, his back turned to the camera, in the snow-covered wilderness on Mt. Baldy. Williams said Mokkapati just disappeared into the distance after he had taken the photo.
“I keep reliving that moment in my mind,” Williams said. “He muttered something, I didn’t quite hear what he said, and then he just kept walking.”
Mokkapati was last seen wearing a gray puffy jacket and gray pants.
Anyone with information regarding this search is urged to contact Fontana Sheriff’s Station, Sergeant Al Huff or Detective Brent Meelker at (909) 453-5392 or (909) 677-9436.