Searcher dies while seeking missing California hiker

The search for a missing Mount Baldy hiker has been suspended after a searcher died Saturday, authorities said.

Tim Staples, 32, was a teacher and a volunteer for nine years with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department West Valley Search & Rescue Team.

Staples became separated from his partner. He was later spotted by helicopter in an ice chute after apparently falling to his death, authorities said.

Staples, who was married in June, was among more than 100 volunteers who have been scouring the area northwest of Los Angeles for nearly a week.

Sreenivas "Sree" Mokkapati, 52, vanished on Dec. 8 after becoming separated from a group of hikers. Friends and relatives said the Irvine man was an experienced hiker who had climbed the mountain several times but was only prepared for a day hike.

The 10,046-foot (3,062-meter) peak northeast of Los Angeles is a popular hiking spot but the trails are rugged and can be treacherous in winter because of ice and heavy snow. Several people have fallen to their deaths in recent years.

Staples taught English and social studies and also coached cross country and track and field at Damien High School in La Verne, where a prayer service was planned for Monday.

“He was a favorite teacher among his students," the school said in a statement.