Rock climbing

Community mourns Solana Beach teacher killed in rock climbing accident

SOLANA BEACH — A beloved teacher at Santa Fe Christian Schools in Solana Beach was found dead last week after a rock climbing accident in Joshua Tree National Park, according to National Park Service and school officials. .

Michael Spitz, a 35-year-old Spanish teacher, died Sunday night of injuries he sustained while climbing the Sentinel Rock formation in Joshua Tree National Park, according to the Riverside County Coroner’s Office. .

Her body was found just before 10 a.m. on Monday, January 17, at the base of the Sentinel Wall near the Hidden Valley Nature Trail. The report says Spitz is believed to have suffered an undisclosed fatal injury around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, about 4 hours before he was discovered.

The school shared the news in a Facebook post explaining that Spitz was loved by students and staff.

“Michael Spitz’s passion for the Lord was contagious and shone through in every conversation. This, combined with a love for children, has made us a better school,” the statement read in part.

Michael Spitz, a 35-year-old Spanish teacher from Santa Fe Christian Schools, was found dead at Joshua Tree National Park last week. Courtesy picture

“Apart from teaching, he was drawn to the outdoors and travel. He was a multi-sport adventure athlete, lifelong surfer, avid rock climber, certified skydiver, backpacker, and book and coffee lover. He co-founded Vida Outreach in Baja California, Mexico to share the hope of Christ and help families fight the cycle of poverty,” the statement continued.

Vida Outreach is a non-profit organization established over 10 years ago committed to transforming communities in Mexico through hunger relief, development and education.

Students who were affected by the news were able to return home early or spend time with their pastors to mourn the news.

Meanwhile, members of Spitz’s family gathered in Joshua Tree to remember him and celebrate his life last week with a display of colored lights and a cellist.

“Please pray for Michael’s family, our high school students, staff and the entire community as we go through the loss of a dear friend and colleague whom we knew and loved. We will share opportunities for support and memorialization in the coming days,” the school said.

According to the National Park Service, the investigation into Spitz’s death is ongoing.