A helicopter search is under way for missing British actor Julian Sands, as US authorities use mobile phone forensics to try to pinpoint his location.

The 65-year-old was reported missing by his wife a week ago after he failed to return home from a hike in the southern Californian mountains.

Due to evidence of avalanches, ground crews have not been able to continue their efforts, and the area is only being searched via helicopter for now.

Both national and state officials are working with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office to help find Sands, but authorities have said there was still “no time set” for when ground searches will begin.

On Friday, the county sheriff’s department revealed that pings from the actor’s phone appeared to show he had been on the move, heading further into the Baldy Bowl area of the San Gabriel Mountains on the day he was reported missing.

“We are working with state and federal agencies that have cell phone forensics to assist us in pinpointing a location, but so far no new info has been developed,” a spokesperson from the department said.

No date has been set for calling off operations yet, with the incident still being treated as a search and rescue operation.

Mount Baldy residents noted the “extreme” conditions in the area, which has been experiencing freezing temperatures and bad weather in recent days, but said they would not “rule anything out” in the mission to find Sands.

Julian Sands

‘With every step, danger increases’

San Bernardino County Fire Department captain Rodd Mascis said the search for missing hikers was “sadly regular” and could be like finding a “needle in a haystack”.

“It truly is ‘enter at your own risk’,” he added.

“Most people come equipped for the day… but coming up against the elements is very difficult after a couple of days.

“You’ve got to be careful, it’s a beautiful area, but with every step that danger increases.”

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department previously urged hikers to “think twice and heed warnings”, saying its search and rescue teams had responded to 14 calls on Mount Baldy and in the surrounding area over the last four weeks.

Actor Julian Sands and wife Evgenia Citkowitz in California in 2015
Sands pictured with his wife Evgenia Citkowitz

Who is Julian Sands?

Born in Yorkshire, Sands’ breakout role came as the free-spirited George in the period drama A Room With A View, in which he appeared opposite Helena Bonham Carter.

He later starred in films such as Leaving Las Vegas, Warlock and Arachnophobia,

He has seen success on the small screen too, playing parts in Smallville and 24, with Kiefer Sutherland.

More recently, he played the chief medical officer in the 2021 Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi-led drama Benediction.

Sands has three children, a son who he shares with former London Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands, and two daughters who he shares with his wife, journalist Evgenia Citkowitz.

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