Rancho Penasquitos

Family reveals details on Black Mountain hiker presumed dead, Diem Le Nguyen

Diem was always thinking of others before herself, her family says

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San Diego hiker Diem Le Nguyen is presumed dead after searchers found the body of a woman matching her description just after 9 a.m. on Monday. A family member spoke with NBC 7 on Monday about this mother of three.

“It was really sad because losing someone is not easy. It’s just not today,“ family member William Do said.

Do says he was on the trail searching for Diem Nguyen Monday morning when he heard she was found.

“I still can’t believe it,” Do said.

Do says Diem worked for the U.S. Navy. She had three adult children and is divorced. She never remarried. Diem is devoted to friends, family and causes.

“It’s hard because you want them to hang around. All the memories you have, so it’s going to be hard,” Do said.

On Sunday, Nguyen was hiking the popular “Nighthawk Trail” on Black Mountain. She was participating with another 150 people in a fundraiser for the Build a School Foundation.

Jimmy Thai organized the event.

“Everybody is still in shock. We couldn’t believe what just happened,“ Thai said.

Thai live-streamed video of the hike on his social media page. In it you see Diem at the summit with several other hikers just after 9 a.m. Sunday morning. They are all wearing the same event black T-Shirts.

Nguyen separated from the group on the descent. The body of the woman found, thought to be Diem, was on another trail entirely.

Searchers say Diem was found a quarter-mile from the intersection of Via Remini and Carmel Mountain Road and that she was discovered just over top of the ridge. It sits above several houses and near a shopping center.

Do has many questions like, how did Diem get so far off the trail? With so many hikers in this area, how did no one see her struggling?

“Someone had to see her after that. She cannot walk down by herself. This is a group. You organize together and wear a uniform so people will see you,” Do said.

The hike took place at the beginning of San Diego County's first heat wave of the summer and an excessive heat watch for the mountains until Sunday evening.

Investigators say Nguyen called her sister around 10 a.m. complaining about the heat and a need for water. Thai says hikers were provided plenty of water and snacks and that the trail was marked with chalk.

“She is very careful. Everything she does. I am surprised to see she ran out of water. She always prepares well for what she is doing,“ Do said.

Do says it was her brother that identified the woman found as Diem. For now, the cause of death is undetermined, and the San Diego County Medical Examiner will make official the identification.

“I want people to remember she is a great person. How she always thinks about other people before herself. She always takes care of her family and friends first," Do said.

Experts suggest if you are planning a hike in high temperatures, you might become acclimatized to the hot weather by taking shorter walks leading up to it.

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