UPDATE June 18 – The search continues for missing man, Ling Dao. Dao was last seen, according to reports from hikers, on June 12 ascending Mt. Whitney, and (potentially) the summit of Whitney. Resources for today include: Inyo SAR, Mono SAR, China Lake Mountain Rescue, and aerial reconnaissance from CHP- Inland Division Air Operations. Additionally drone technology will be utilized to gather data on areas that are too dangerous to approach on foot. Back-country conditions include snow instability (avalanche areas, rock slide areas, ice, and areas where the snow/ice has collapsed). The search area is approximately 30 square miles of high mountain terrain.
We encourage anyone who may have seen Dao – especially as he was descending to contact the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at 760-878-0383/option 4.
June 17 – On Friday June 14, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office was notified that Ling Dao a 41–year old man from Virginia had not shown up for work. According to the reporting party (and co-worker) Dao flew into Las Vegas on Tuesday June 11, had planned to summit Mt. Whitney on June 12, drive back to Las Vegas after summiting and catch a red-eye flight back to Virginia for scheduled work on June 13. After receiving the information, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office contacted the rental car company that Dao used; the SO was advised that Dao had returned the vehicle at 10:00am Friday the 14.
Continuing calls from family regarding Dao prompted the Sheriff’s Office to contact the rental car company again – at which point differing information was provided. According to the rental car company’s updated information Dao returned his vehicle Saturday the 15 around 11:45am. A vehicle description and license plate information was requested and provided to the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office.
On Saturday June 15, Dao’s rental vehicle was located in the Whitney Portal parking area. A Search and Rescue was launched and beginning early the morning of Sunday June 16 ground team members from China Lake Mountain Rescue Group began a hasty search along the Mt. Whitney trail. Conditions in the back-country are still extremely snowy with significant challenges presented by snow instability, ice, and heavy runoff.
On Monday June 17 Inyo SAR ground team members ascended the Mt. Whitney trail in search of Ling Dao. Aerial reconnaissance is being provided by CHP-Inland Division Air Operations. Sequoia and Kings National Park is also providing support and assistance in the Dao SAR.
To date, Inyo Sheriff has received several reports of hikers who either saw or spoken with Dao on June 12, both at the summit and during his ascent. Dao is 6’1” and 160 pounds – he is believed to be carrying a Black Diamond ice ax and brightly colored windbreaker and/or jacket. If anyone had contact with Mr. Dao after June 12 or may have seen him hiking along the Mt. Whitney trail please contact the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at 760-878-0383/option 4.