Cal State Long Beach Grad Falls 1,500 feet to Death While Rescuing Friend at Mt. Baldy Trail

Daniel Nguyen IG

Photo courtesy of Daniel Nguyen’s Instagram profile. 

A recent Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) graduate fell about 1,500 feet to his death Tuesday morning, while attempting to help a friend slipping on a trail as they hiked up Mount Baldy.

Garden Grove resident Daniel Nguyen, 23, was pronounced dead at 5:16PM on Tuesday, February 2, according to a release from the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner office.

Authorities said Nguyen and two other male friends were hiking in the Devil’s Backbone area of Mount Baldy when he fell down the mountainside in the process of helping his fellow hiker on the trail.

Daniel Nguyen Devils Backbone

Daniel Nguyen at Devil’s Backbone Trail in Mount Baldy in 2015. Photo courtesy of Nguyen’s Facebook profile. 

Sheriff’s officials were notified of the incident at about 7:40AM and deployed aviation and ground Search and Rescue personnel. Though the aviation team located Nguyen at about 9:00AM, heavy winds kept them from immediately reaching the body.

“The weather definitely puts restrictions on aviation’s ability to be in an area and get down to a subject like that and that’s exactly what they were facing [Tuesday],” SBSD PIO Jodi Miller said.

Ground teams were able to hike down to the body at about 5:00PM, which was located down a north slope into the Middle Fork trail area, she said.

The place is popular among experienced hikers, Miller added. She described the area as a rough terrain at a high altitude, and with a lot of snow after recent storms.

Nguyen recently graduated from CSULB with a degree in kinesiology and was an employee at the Long Beach-based Maritime Bicycle Courier.

Upon hearing the news of his passing, friends, family and coworkers have flooded Nguyen’s Facebook profile with fond memories and words regarding his adventurous spirit, kindness and curious and contemplative mind.

Maritime Bicycle Courier co-owner Langdon Taguiped posted a photo of Nguyen on the company’s Facebook page, admiring the cyclist’s connection to nature and desire for adventure.

“We give a moment of thought to the passing of a Maritime original… Daniel Nguyen,” he wrote in the post. “l am saddened by Daniel not being here physically, but I am relieved he is truly free…”

Taguiped stated that Nguyen was treading a different path, based on the books he’d read on standby and the conversations he’d had with coworkers. Nguyen was one of Maritime’s first several couriers and was quick to learn and enjoy the work flow, said Taguiped. 

“He flowed with us from the beginning, not knowing what to expect, but he had an understanding of our spirit and the want to live ours…. on his own path he reached out to help a friend’s life in exchange for his own,” Taguiped concluded. “There are not many physical act[s] as noble as that one.”


Nguyen was also a member of the CSULB cycling team. 

“We called him the courier ninja because he would wear all black and looked super stealth and quick,” Maritime co-worker and fellow team member Elaina Alvarez told the Post. “He was always smiling and made everyone else around him smile, too. He was very kind and generous, always sharing his food with fellow couriers and making everyone feel like an old friend.”

As teammates, the two would often train in groups together, according to Alvarez. 

“I was really struggling on a climb and Daniel slowed down to ride with me and make sure I was okay,” Alvarez remembered. “He was always looking out for his teammates and friends. I am so lucky to have known Daniel and will miss him greatly. I will always remember his warm smile and kind heart. RIP Courier Ninja.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family with funeral costs. To contribute, click here.

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Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.