UPDATE at 5:08 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, 2015: Sheriff's officials say the victim, 18, dove into a pond. Authorities no longer consider this a homicide investigation. Headline has changed. Details are below.
What were three people doing at a cliff-diving spot in the Angeles National Forrest at 8:44 in the morning on a cold spring morning after a storm brought rain and, in the mountains, snow to the area?
It's a question authorities are trying to answer today after one of those three hikers ended up dead.
The L.A. County Fire Department was called to 2200 N. Santa Anita Canyon Ave., near the Chantry Flat campsite, at 8:44 a.m. to respond to a reported victim of a drowning, said fire Inspector Chris Reade.
Once there paramedics found a man dead on arrival as well as two other people who had minor injuries, he said. Those two were taken to a hospital via helicopter, Reade said.
The location was Hermit Falls in U.S. Forest Service turf above Sierra Madre, authorities said. The area is popular with cliff divers, but it wasn't clear if the victim had been diving, Reade told us.
He also agreed that it would be unusual to go cliff diving early in the morning after a good rain.
Sheriff's deputies were called to the scene about one minute after paramedics were notified of the situation, Lt. Loy McBride said. He said the case is “a homicide investigation now.”
However, he said there was nothing that he knew of so far that would indicate foul play. “The information I have is very limited,” the lieutenant said.
McBride said the name of the victim is known to officials but would be withheld until family was notified. Coroner's officials were also at the scene this afternoon, he said.
UPDATE at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, 2015: Sheriff's officials now say the teenage victim did indeed dive into the pond from the top of the falls. Here's the latest, according to a statement just released by the department:
[A] detective learned a male adult, age 18, jumped 50 feet from the top of the fall into the pond below. Two teens, who were with the adult, recognized that the adult was non-responsive so they jumped in the pond to rescue him.
Those two, also teens, were treated for hypothermia, sheriff's officials said.
UPDATE at 5:08 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, 2015: A sheriff's sergeant told us this is no longer a homicide investigation.
“It appears that it was a recreational accident,” she said. “He just jumped from a cliff.”