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Middle school educator dies while rock-climbing in Yosemite

Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- A California middle school aide died this month while climbing in Yosemite National Park, authorities said.

Patricia "Trish" Stoops, 57, died June 8 in a rappelling accident at the Central Pillar of Frenzy, one of the popular rock-climbing lines at Yosemite.

"She had taken the lead to get the team down before dark and something, what exactly still isn't clear, went horribly wrong," her brother Michael Stoops wrote on a climbing forum. "She did not survive the fall, unfortunately. No one else was injured."

Stoops had worked at Glick Middle School in Modesto, where she and another teacher founded the HOPE Project, an extracurricular program that organizes service trips for students. The Modesto Bee featured the program in February when the teachers took a group of students to help a family who had lost their Paradise home in the Camp fire.

Jamey Johnson Olney, an English language development teacher and co-founder of the extracurricular program, wrote on a memorial page dedicated to Stoops that she and her students are planning to build a house in Mexico for families in need -- a trip that she and Stoops had been planning for months.

"Our students and I are determined to see this project to completion and honor the life and legacy of an angel here on earth," Olney wrote.

An outpouring of support lined the online memorial wall expressing gratitude for Stoops' work with children and Habitat for Humanity, as well as her mentorship and friendship with other climbers.

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"I never met a climber more dedicated to supporting our tribe than Trish," one wrote.

According to a friend of Stoops' and a fellow climber, a climbing route in Arizona's Alabama Hills will be renamed in her honor.

"Next time you're in the hills, go climb it, and know that Trish was there."

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