Joshua Tree National Park

‘Beloved' San Diego Teacher Killed in Joshua Tree Climbing Accident

Michael Spitz, 35, was seriously hurt a little before 5:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Sentinel Rock Formation in Joshua Tree National Park

Michael Spitz, 35, was seriously hurt a little before 5:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Sentinel Rock Formation in Joshua Tree National Park
Getty Images (Joshua Tree National Park)

Friends, families and students of an educator at Solana Beach's Santa Fe Christian Schools are mourning the loss of a "beloved" Spanish teacher killed over the weekend in a rock-climbing fall in Riverside County.

Michael Spitz, 35, was seriously hurt a little before 5:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Sentinel Rock Formation in Joshua Tree National Park, succumbing to his injuries the following day. Spitz's body was found just before 10 a.m. Monday at the base of the Sentinel Wall near the Hidden Valley Nature Trail, according to a news release issued by the Riverside County coroner's office.

Spitz, a San Diego resident, was an accomplished rock climber, skydiver, surfer, backpacker and avid reader, according to a post on the Santa Fe Christian Schools Facebook page.

"The entire Santa Fe Christian community is deeply grieved to have learned of the sudden loss of our beloved Upper School Spanish teacher Michael Spitz in a rock-climbing accident," the post read, in part. "Michael Spitz's passion for the Lord was infectious and came out in every conversation."

In addition to his work as a teacher, Spitz was also the co-founder of Vida Outreach, a Baja California-based organization dedicated to fighting poverty, according to the school.

The National Park Service said that a multi-agency investigation headed by the Riverside County coroner's office is ongoing.

More than a thousand students attend Santa Fe Christian, which is a private school comprised of three upper, middle and lower schools, as well as a preschool campus in neighboring Encinitas.

City News Service contributed to this report — Ed.

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