The group of hikers who found the body of beloved British actor Julian Sands on Mt. Baldy in Los Angeles in June are speaking out for the first time since the discovery.
The hikers were climbing the steep mountain on June 24, six months after Sands went missing, when they found shoes, bones, and the actor’s driver’s license.
‘It was surreal,’ said hiker Bill Dwyer talking with the Los Angeles Times. Dwyer and his crew hiked more than 10 miles on the day they found Sands’ remains.
In a June Strava post – captioned ‘Discovery and recovery of Julian Sands’ – Dwyer said he had jokingly told his daughter that they were looking ‘for Julian Sands.’
Sands, best known for his roles in Oscar-nominated films including 1985’s ‘A Room With A View,’ was reported missing by his family on January 13.
Hikers had been warned in the weeks leading up to the discovery that there could be remains on the trails and helicopters and search teams had been out looking.
Bill Dwyer, one of the hikers who discovered Julian Sands’ remains in June, described finding the actor’s items as ‘surreal’ in an interview with the Los Angeles Times
Sands, best known for his roles in Oscar-nominated films including 1985’s ‘A Room With A View,’ was reported missing by his family on January 13
Mt. Baldy is located in the Angeles National Forest and is approximately 10,064 feet high
One of the hikers who spoke chose to remain anonymous and said they were worried as the ice and snow was melting that they might find remains.
‘I hope we don’t find a dead body today,’ she said of her thoughts before the hike.
The group knew that Sands’ phone had last pinged from a ridge beneath the mountain’s summit and that he could have slid down the canyon they were hiking.
Three hours into their nearly eight hour hike, the group found a boot and then another boot a few yards up the hill.
They later found trekking poles, bones and then dark winter clothes. Inside the pocket of the pants was a driver’s license with Sands’ name and picture.
Dwyer and other group members avoided talking with the media and only spoke with the outlet in an effort to warn others about the dangers of winter hiking.
They say that it’s important to always have a full safety kit and to not become too relaxed when hiking, even on familiar paths.
Upon discovering the remains, the group found one of Sands’ boots had microspikes, which are metal cleats that can be attached to shoes for hiking.
The spikes are not meant for hikes where snow is heavy and the terrain is slippery and steep.
‘I was a little shocked to see the microspikes,’ Dwyer told the outlet. ‘They were just the wrong tools for the job at hand.’
Sands was an avid hiker and sent photos of himself on trails to his loved ones
In a June Strava post – captioned ‘Discovery and recovery of Julian Sands’ – Dwyer said he had jokingly told his daughter that they were looking ‘for Julian Sands’
Not found along with Sands’s remains were a helmet or ice ax, which Dwyer said he should have had for the hike he was on. He also was wearing dark clothing.
The ‘Naked Launch’ actor did have his phone on him but much of the mountain range does not have cell service.
Dwyer – upon finding Sands’ items – used a Garmin satellite messaging device to reach out to rescue teams in June. They were able to respond in eight minutes.
After Sands went missing, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department spent more than $100,000 and 500 hours searching for the actor.
The inclement weather made search and rescue missions difficult as storms and snow mad the terrain rugged for even the most skilled hikers.
Since 2020, seven people have been confirmed dead and there have been more than 100 searches at Mt. Baldy for missing hikers.
The Southern California range is one of the deadliest in the United States.
At the time that his remains were discovered, Sands appeared to have been wearing dark-colored hiking clothes. Pictured: Sands in a photo from a previous summit
Rescuers with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department during a search for Sands
After Sands went missing, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department spent more than $100,000 and 500 hours searching for the actor. Pictured: Rescuers during one search
When Sands went missing, he was last known to be in the Baldy Bowl Trail area. If he fell from the trail, he could have either ended up in Baldy Bowl or Goode Canyon.
Goode Canyon, where he was ultimately found, is a more treacherous terrain where no one would likely be able to spot him.
Donna Newlin, a member of the San Bernardino County’s search and rescue team said the falling snow and ice can turn the canyon into a ‘shooting gallery.’
Numerous efforts were made to find the actor after much of the snow had melted, including one just days before Dwyer’s team and hundreds of feet away.
‘It was just one of those things,’ Newlin said. ‘If they had gone another 600 feet farther down, they might have found him.’
It remains unclear how exactly Sands died and when.
In late July, Sands’ cause of death was ruled ‘undetermined’ due to the condition of his remains.
The ‘undetermined’ manner of death is common when dealing with cases of this type, a spokesperson with the sheriff’s department told PEOPLE.