One of the best memories Tim Jones’s son had of his father, the tireless leader of the volunteer-run North Shore Search and Rescue who died last weekend, was of a Father’s Day they spent rescuing an injured climber together two years ago.
Sitting in the comfort of his dad’s house, Curtis Jones recalls the pair getting a distress call and within hours were airlifting a man screaming from pain and wracked with hypothermia off a steep North Shore mountain slope with a 600-foot drop below.
Situations like that were just one example of how Tim Jones, who took part in over 1,400 rescue missions saving countless hikers, skiers and snowboarders, was remembered during a memorial on Saturday — a man for whom family and saving lives were alway top of mind.
“No matter who we were, he wouldn’t hesitate to put his life on the line for any of us,” said Curtis, whose voice was cracking. “He was our guardian standing watch for all those who wandered astray.”
Hundreds gathered to attend the memorial of the man who had served with North Shore Rescue for 25 years and thousands lined the streets Saturday to watch a funeral procession led by an ambulance that bore the 57-year-old’s ashes.
Police, first responders and search and rescue members from around B.C. were present throughout the procession and ceremony that paid respect to the man who also worked full-time as an advanced-life-support paramedic.
And while Jones’ long career was remembered fondly, stories of Jones’ gruff but compassionate personality seemed to draw just as much laughter and applause.
North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto was on hand to tell tales of his encounters with Jones.
“‘You’ve only got 500 feet to fall and if you miss — it’s no time for Kumbaya, so don’t screw up,“’ Mussatto said as audience members laughed, recalling Jones’ advice when the two went on a challenging hiking trip with a sharp drop-off.
It wasn’t the only anecdote that drew chuckles from the audience.
Jones also used colourful analogies during his news conferences involving rescue operations.
He compared a hiker venturing into dangerous terrain to “‘a Tomahawk missile on the loose without its guidance system working,“’ Mussatto recalled.
And while Jones could be a gruff man and end up “shredding,” — North Shore Rescue slang for getting reprimanded — members of his crew, he was still well liked.
“The shred was a sign of respect, and the more that he would shred you, the more he truly cared about you,” longtime team member Jeff Yarnold said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and B.C. Premier Christy Clark sent letters of condolence that were read at the service.
After the service Jones’s cremated remains were put aboard one of the helicopters he so often used in his search and rescue work and were symbolically flown away.
The final destination of the ashes was not disclosed.
Jones was 57 years old when he died of a heart attack Jan. 19 while on a Mount Seymour trail coming back from the rescue group’s cabin with his daughter Taylor.
“You are now my angel and the angel of everyone who goes into the mountains,” Taylor said.
Jones’ family and friends vowed to continue the work that he dedicated his life to.
“Dad, when the pager goes, we’ll be there,” Curtis said.