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Family remembers teacher who died in climbing accident at Joshua Tree National Park

Michael Spitz
Michael Spitz
Posted at 5:02 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 21:11:21-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Family and friends of 35-year-old Michael Spitz are heartbroken after losing the San Diego teacher in a climbing accident at Joshua Tree National Park earlier this week.

“He was just selfless with himself and others and a mentor to so many people,” Craig Spitz, Michael's dad, said about his son.

At Joshua Tree on Wednesday, the family displayed colorful lights and a cello player to remember the life of Michael Spitz. His mother, Karin, said Michael was an avid outdoors man, loved surfing, climbing, and went to Joshua Tree often.

But last Sunday his parents say he was by himself, climbing in the sentinel wall area when he fell at least 80 feet.

“He was about to go get up in the air and slipped and climbing solo so no ropes,” said Craig.

Craig said the San Diego County coroner's office knocked on their door early Tuesday to let them know their son was gone.

“It's weird I'm sitting here and I feel like I'm talking about someone else's story.”

Michael Spitz
The family of 35-year-old Michael Spitz are heartbroken after losing the San Diego teacher in a climbing accident at Joshua Tree National Park.

His parents said Michael loved living life to the fullest. He was adventurous, giving, and spent a significant amount of time helping families in poverty in Mexico.

Michael was a Spanish teacher at Santa Fe Christian's Upper School in Solana beach. A statement on the school's Facebook page is asking for prayers.

“He wanted to matter and make a difference and wanted to help other people.”

His parents say the outpouring of support has been immense for a son that meant the world to them and to so many others.

“He always told us that it wasn't the number of years it was the quality during the time you had and lived that.”