Tim Jones, the veteran leader of North Shore Rescue (NSR), died suddenly on Sunday evening on Mount Seymour, one of the mountains where he led countless search and rescue operations.
"It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our team leader," read a short statement on the B.C. search and rescue team's website. "We extend our deepest condolences to his family. We are very sad that have lost our tenacious leader who has done so much for this team and our community."
The team had been hosting Avalanche Awareness Days on the mountain over the weekend. Jones, 57, had finished team business at the NSR cabin and was leaving when he collapsed on the trail, said the statement.
Personnel from Mount Seymour patrol, BC Ambulance Service, the RCMP, the fire department and Lions Gate Hospital tried to save him but he did not survive, said a NSR Facebook post. The update provided no further details.
A paramedic by trade, Jones had volunteered with the team since 1987. As leader, he oversaw about 40 volunteers who looked for lost or injured people in the North Shore mountains.
"In his over three decades of service, Tim has saved countless lives, both in our communities and in the mountains. To say that the Paramedic family and British Columbians in general have suffered a tremendous loss, would be an understatement," said Bronwyn Barter, provincial president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., in a statement.
UPDATE: A service in celebration of Tim Jones' life is being planned for Saturday, Jan. 25 at Centennial Theatre, said a post on NSR's Facebook page on Monday.
Jones was also the face of NSR, appearing in countless media interviews to talk about their rescues and public safety in the backcountry.
Jones accepted the Joseph H. Cohen Award from the Justice Institute of B.C. on the organization's behalf in November. The award recognizes outstanding service in justice and public safety.
He was also recently featured in "To the Rescue," a documentary that profiled search and rescue teams across Canada.
News of Jones's death prompted an outpouring of emotion on Facebook. Many people called him a hero for his work helping people in distress. One person wrote, "so many lives were saved because Tim Jones lived."
Others called Jones a "pillar of our community" and thanked him for his "sacrifices so that those in need had someone to see them safe when things went wrong."
Statement from B.C. Premier Christy Clark
"I was saddened to hear the tragic news about Tim Jones.
"Tim represented the North Shore and B.C. at our absolute best. He dedicated the best part of his life to
helping people in the worst moment of theirs - Tim's North Shore Rescue team often meant the difference
between life and death.
"North Shore Rescue was a full-time, often dangerous job - which makes it all the more amazing that it was
voluntary. On his own, Tim built one of North America's most innovative and successful search-and-rescue
teams. To date, they have found over 1,000 people and saved dozens of lives.
"I was honoured to present Tim with the Order of British Columbia in 2011. I can think of no one who
deserved it more.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his family. He will be missed."
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