6:18am December 15th, 2019 [Facebook]

It is with heavy hearts we report the tragic death of West Valley Search and Rescue member Timothy Staples. Tim was one of many brave volunteers searching areas of Mt. Baldy for a missing hiker

DATE/TIME: December 14, 2019 / 1:30 p.m.

INCIDENT: Death of volunteer Search and Rescue team member


VICTIM(S): Timothy Staples, 32-year-old, a 9-year veteran of San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department – Search and Rescue

SUMMARY: On Saturday, December 14, 2019, at approximately 1:00 p.m. a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department – Search and Rescue team member radioed and advised he was separated from his partner, Timothy Staples. Around 1:30 p.m., a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter responded to search for the team members. The helicopter located Staples unresponsive in an area of ice and snow. A medic was lowered to Staples and unfortunately, he was discovered deceased. Staples was hoisted and transported from the wilderness. The surviving team member was later hoisted from the mountain and returned to the command post. Staples and his partner were part of the ongoing search efforts to locate missing hiker Sree Mokkapati. Staples was one of the 126 people working in 23 teams searching large sections of Mt. Baldy. He was a dedicated volunteer and a 9-year veteran with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department – Search and Rescue Team assigned to the West Valley Search and Rescue Unit.

Investigators are responding to the location to conduct interviews and review the scene for information that can help identify what occurred. This investigation is ongoing, and specifics details are unavailable. At this time, all remaining search teams are being recalled from the mountain. The initial search operation for Mr. Mokkapati has been suspended and search operations will be reevaluated. The department would like to thank all the allied agencies for their assistance during this difficult search.

Refer: Detective Lugo

Station: Fontana Sheriff’s Station

Phone No. 1-909-356-6767

Case No. 031903231

JOHN McMAHON, Sheriff-Coroner
San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department