California hiker found dead after falling 80 feet

The body of a California man reported missing after not returning from a hike to the top of San Gorgonio Peak was recovered in the San Bernardino National Forest, officials said May 2.

Robert Carey Jr., 33, was found at the base of Big Falls waterfall, a popular spot near the peak, and rescuers determined that he died after falling about 80 feet, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.

Family members reported Carey missing on April 30 to the sheriff’s department and said he hadn’t returned from a hike on San Gorgonio Mountain. The family called Carey an experienced hiker but said he had never summited the 11,503-foot-tall peak, the tallest mountain in Southern California.


Carey’s mother, Bonnie Phillips, told NBC News that her son texted her before it took off for the hike.

“He sent me a text. He said: ‘When you wake up, go out and look at the tallest mountain you see out there. And I’ll be up there. Wish me luck,'” Phillips said. “He was adamant that he was going to make it to the top of that mountain. And he did.”

Carey followed up with his mother from the trail and told her that he was a mile from the summit.

That night, he didn’t show up for the family’s weekly Saturday night dinner, NBC reported.

Shortly after the the family contacted the sheriff’s dispatch, the department said it received a call from witnesses “reporting an unknown [subject] yelling for help in the Forest Falls area.”

Rescue teams were deployed to the area and conducted a search. In darkness, the sheriff’s department helicopter located an unresponsive male and determined he died from his injuries. The recovery of the body was delayed until the next day due to the “danger and complexity of the recovery operation” at night, the sheriff’s office said.

On Sunday, the San Bernardino County sheriff’s office hoisted a rescue team by helicopter to the location and they recovered Carey’s remains. The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Department identified the man as Carey, the sheriff’s office said.

Carey’s family thanked rescue personnel, the sheriff’s department said.

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