Solana Beach

‘Never Wasted a Minute': Adventurous Solana Beach Teacher Who Died Rock-Climbing Grieved by School

Along with engaging in extreme sports like skydiving and rock-climbing, Michael Spitz also founded a nonprofit to help fight poverty in Mexico

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A Solana Beach teacher who died during a rock-climbing fall at Joshua Tree National Park is remembered for his gregarious, adventurous and lively attitude and for being more than an educator to his students, but a mentor, as well.

“Michael Spitz was an amazing man,” said Rod Gilbert, Head of Santa Fe Christian Schools. “(He) inspired his students and we’re actually currently going through a lot of grieving because of the loss.”

Spitz died on Sunday evening from injuries he sustained while rock-climbing at the Sentinel Rock Formation in Joshua Tree National Park, according to the Riverside County coroner’s office. His body was found the following morning.

“Michael Spitz's passion for the Lord was infectious and came out in every conversation,” the school said in a statement on Tuesday. “This, combined with a love for the kids, made us a better school.”

Students are still processing the tragedy and were allowed to go home or spend time with pastors to grieve. Gilbert said they will fondly remember for his engaging and eclectic ways of teaching.

“Besides being a fun-loving guy, we just learned yesterday that in one of the classes last week, he just jumped up on a desk and started teaching on top of the desk,” he said. “And of course, that entertained everybody.”

When he wasn’t teaching Spanish at Santa Fe Christian School, Spitz was an adventurer who enjoyed rock-climbing, skydiving, backpacking and surfing. He was also a philanthropist who founded Vida Outreach, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combatting poverty in Mexico.

“He routinely showed the kids that life is full of adventure and never waste a minute,” Gilbert said. “That guy never wasted a minute.”

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