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Update: Entire North Shore mourns death of NSR leader Tim Jones
Tim Jones, the longtime leader of North Shore Rescue, died Sunday night on a trail near the team's cabin on Mount Seymour — one of his many homes away from home.
According to a tweet by NSR late Sunday, efforts to revive Jones, 57, were unsuccessful.
"Seymour patrol, BCAS, RCMP, Fire and Lions Gate staff all put in a massive effort to save Tim but unfortunately he did not come through," reads the Twitter post.
A press release issued by the volunteer-run rescue group on Monday morning states: "We are very sad that have lost our tenacious leader who has done so much for this team and our community."
While the cause of Jones' death has not been confirmed, what is known is the reach of life's work. Thousands of people from across the North Shore and beyond took to social media hours after the news broke to share in the grief of his family, and to recount stories of how Jones touched their lives.
On NSR's Facebook page, many said, while they didn't have the fortune of meeting Jones they were well aware of his commitment to keeping people safe in the local mountains. And at what cost.
"The man was selfless and a hero," wrote Leslie Hardy. "My condolences to his wife and families ... I saw him so many times on TV, it could only mean he wasn't home with his family. Please know that he was a treasure and will never be forgotten."
Flags at North Van district and city halls flew at half-mast Monday in tribute to Jones. North Van City Mayor Darrell Mussatto was audibly broken up when speaking to The Outlook about the passing of his friend.
"Well, I've known Tim for over 30 years," said Mussatto. "I've known him for so long I can't remember our first meeting."
Mussatto, a paramedic currently on leave, credits Jones with helping him get on with the B.C. Ambulance Service. They had both studied the same fields in university, kinesiology and geography.
"And one of my professors said, 'You should meet this guy Tim Jones,'" recalls Mussatto.
Jones took Mussatto under his wing and brought him along for ambulance ride-alongs. He would later be Mussatto's first instructor in the training academy.
"He was very dedicated," said Mussatto. "And he's a very caring guy. He would do things for others."
Outside of their professional interactions, they were friends who shared a common love of hiking and the outdoors.
As for Jones' legacy as NSR leader, Mussatto was effusive with his praise: "He has made North Shore Rescue probably one of the most talented, skilled teams in all of the world," said Mussatto. "So he has a legacy of giving back and caring for others, I think that's his biggest legacy."
The mayor also characterized Jones as being a big family man.
"His family is very important to him, and this is just a huge devastating loss to Lindsay (Jones' wife), Taylor and Curtis (Jones' children)," said Mussatto.
Curtis, who followed in his father's footsteps and joined the NSR team as a young adult, posted a photo of him and his dad during a rescue at Pitt Lake. Reads the caption: "Me and the old man saving lives. Gonna miss you dad."
Meanwhile, across the North Shore, people from all walks of life took time out of their Monday to share their own sentiments on Jones' passing.
District of North Van fire chief Victor Penman had worked closely with Jones in his various capacities — paramedic followed by NSR leader — for the past two decades.
"The charisma that he had, the energy, his dedication to everyone around him, not only in his own organization but to his partner agencies like the fire departments and the police departments was unprecedented," Penman told The Outlook.
He said Jones always gave 1,000 per cent to whatever he was doing, and the North Shore community is better off for having known him.
"He’s just an amazing citizen," said Penman. "His presence and his energy in the community of the North Shore will never be forgotten."
North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornthwaite posted this message of condolence on her website:
"Tim will be deeply missed by all who knew him, by people whose lives he touched, and those who are alive today thanks to his kindness and commitment. The entire North Shore community and British Columbia have lost a true hero.”
And two of the places where Jones made his home away from home during rescues — Mount Seymour and Grouse Mountain —offered their own statements as well.
Said Grouse Mountain president Stuart McLaughlin: "As are so many, Grouse Mountain is saddened to hear of the passing of Tim Jones. Tim was a tireless leader and respected partner to all of the North Shore mountains and his dedication, passion and expertise will certainly be missed. Grouse Mountain expresses our most sincere condolences to Tim’s family, friends and colleagues."
And from the site of Jones' passing, Mount Seymour Resorts spokesperson Simon Whitehead had this to say:
"We are shocked and saddened by the passing of Tim Jones. His tireless efforts to further improve the effectiveness and responsiveness of search and rescue operations on the North Shore fostered a highly-skilled and professional team. His love of the outdoors and genuine concern and care for people came through to everyone who met him. He will be greatly missed both professionally and personally."
As for word on a public memorial for Jones, Mussatto said, while it's still quite early to discuss those plans, if the family wanted to host it at Centennial Theatre, as one option, then the city would help cover the cost.
Both North Vancouver municipalities are planning to pay tribute to Jones at their respective council meetings Monday evening.