Tim Staples volunteered to help look for a missing hiker in California's Mount Baldy

By Jason Duaine Hahn
December 17, 2019 02:26 PM
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Timothy Staples
Credit: San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department

A 32-year-old rescue worker and newlywed died in an apparent fall while searching for a missing person on a Southern California mountainside.

Tim Staples, a volunteer Search and Rescue member with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, became separated from his partner Saturday afternoon while participating in a multi-day search for a missing hiker on Mt. Baldy, located near the eastern border of Los Angeles County.

A short time later, a helicopter crew found Staples — who worked as an English and social science teacher at Damien High School in La Verne — dead in an icy area of the mountain. He was a 9-year veteran of the search team.

“The helicopter located Staples unresponsive in an area of ice and snow,” a statement posted to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page reads. “A medic was lowered to Staples and unfortunately, he was discovered deceased. Staples was hoisted and transported from the wilderness.”

According to the department, Staples was one of 126 people looking for hiker Sree Mokkapati. After his death, rescue efforts on the mountain related to Mokkapati were suspended.

“This investigation is ongoing, and specifics details are unavailable. At this time, all remaining search teams are being recalled from the mountain,” the department said. “The department would like to thank all the allied agencies for their assistance during this difficult search.”

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Staples exchanged vows with his wife only six months ago, according to a GoFundMe set up by the West Valley Search and Rescue Team.

“Tim fell head over heels in love with the love of his life, Katie,” a description on the page reads. “The two newlyweds joined in marriage in front of their friends and family just six short months ago.”

The donation page has raised more than $75,000 of its $100,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.

“He was a brother, uncle, nephew, and a friend to so many,” the sheriff’s office said of Staples in a post to Twitter on Sunday. “During his teaching career, he gained the respect and love of his students as he was an exceptional role model who cared deeply for them. Tim’s absence left a hole in our hearts that may never be filled.”