A member of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue team died on Saturday during the search for missing hiker Sree Mokkapati on Mount Baldy in California. The rescue team member became separated from his partner and was found unresponsive after an air search. He has been identified as Timothy Staples, 32, a volunteer for the West Valley Search and Rescue Team.
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“He was an extremely dedicated volunteer, loved the opportunity to participate in search and rescue and really loved what he did,” Sgt. Jeff Allison of the Sheriff’s Department said.
Around 1 pm, Staples’ partner radioed for help on the mountain. Staples is presumed to have fallen down an ice chute. A medic was lowered to him and found Staples dead in the ice and snow, according to officials, reports NBC.
Search operations for Mokkapati have been suspended and crews have been recalled from the mountain. As of Sunday afternoon, the search for Mokkapati was still suspended.
Staples was a 9-year veteran of the search and rescue team, highly skilled and was one of 126 people working in 23 teams searching large sections of the mountain for Mokkapati, the Sheriff’s Department said.