Stirring memorial held for SAR hero Jones

Paul Dixon
January 27, 2014
By Paul Dixon
dsc_0118Jan. 27, 2014, Vancouver - Tim Jones, the public face of North Shore Rescue, died on Mount Seymour on Sunday, January 19. After spending the weekend on the mountain conducting avalanche awareness training for the public with other members of the team, Jones collapsed that evening while walking to the parking lot accompanied by his daughter, Taylor, and another team member. He stopped walking, said “hang on a minute,” and collapsed without warning. His daughter and others started CPR immediately to no avail. Tim Jones was 57 when he died.

He grew up in North Vancouver in the shadow of the mountains that would come to be his life. An outstanding football player in high school and later at Simon Fraser University, he was drafted by the Toronto Argonauts but a knee injury ended his football days. Those who remember playing with him at SFU described him as a joker off the field but “super serious” on the field, the same way he approached his work as a paramedic with the BC Ambulance Service and later as a volunteer with North Shore Rescue.

Tim was with BC Ambulance for 32 years, as an Advanced Life Support paramedic and the unit chief of the North Vancouver Station. He joined North Shore Rescue in 1987 and was an integral part of a team that honed itself into an elite group of mountain rescue specialists. A community memorial service was held this past Saturday morning, preceded by a parade. More than 1,000 search-and-rescue (SAR) volunteers, paramedics, firefighters and police officers marched behind a black-draped ambulance that carried Tim’s ashes from the North Vancouver armouries to the Centennial Theatre, as a formation of helicopters and small planes circled overhead. Thousands lined the routed, applauding the procession as it passed. North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussato said he could not remember such a public outpouring. At the theatre, admission was restricted to 600 invited guests and VIPS, while several thousand more watched the ceremony on big screens set up in the parking lot.

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Photos by Paul Dixon.
 
Inside the theatre, Jones was remembered by co-workers, friends and family. A letter from Prime Minister Stephen Harper was read by local MP Andrew Saxton. “'Tim Jones was an exemplar of the valour demonstrated by these everyday heroes. I admire the courage, compassion and dedication of rescue service volunteers. Tim Jones was an exemplar of the valour demonstrated by these everyday heroes. Countless families have had a loved one saved from peril thanks to his valiant efforts.”

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Provincial Minister of Public Safety Susan Anton, read a letter from Premier Christy Clark which said in part, “He dedicated the best part of his life to helping people in the worst moments of theirs. Tim Jones and North Shore Rescue, for many people, meant the difference between life and death.”

Son Curtis Jones, also a member of North Shore Rescue, characterized his father as “unique” in that he always stood out in the crowd. He set his own path and he did what was right without getting bogged down by politics or protocol, and for this he made no apologies.” The last speaker was his daughter, Taylor, who raised a hearty roar of laughter from the crowd when she said she would miss cringing at the things he sometimes said on the news, but how proud she was that her father brought other ones’ loved ones home safely.

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At the conclusion of the ceremony, a piper led the procession outside where the honour guard escorted his remains and personal effects including his hat and helmet through a block long salute. The finish saw Tim Jones’ family and his remains depart in a yellow Talon helicopter, to be taken to an unnamed spot in the mountains above North Vancouver.

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