Silver Lake - Authorities still aren’t sure exactly what went wrong when a 68-year-old man on a moped was killed by a speeding SUV at Silver Lake Boulevard and Effie Street last month. But we now know one thing for certain about the man who died:
Timothy Stirton was an explorer.
"Timothy was an avid hiker and liked to lead backpacking trips for the group both in the Angeles forest and in the high Sierras," said Robert King, who knew Stirton for about 30 years through Great Outdoors - an LGBTQ hiking group where Stirton earned a Lifetime Achievement award, according to Stirton's obituary.
Indeed, Stirton’s last post on Facebook was a video of his most recent hike to the Little Jimmy campsite in the San Gabriel Mountains. His Facebook page overall is a collection of his outdoor activities - videos of hikes, a picture of a coyote that started following him, musical montages of the Silver Lake Reservoir, the Sespe Wilderness, Malaga Cove.
When he wasn’t sleeping in the wilderness, Stirton lived on Occidental Boulevard in Silver Lake, with a garden so accomplished that his house has been featured was on the Theodore Payne Foundation garden tour, King said. Stirton was also featured in an L.A. Times story on native plants.
"He was … very enthusiastic about California native plants," King said - an enthusiasm noticeable in one video as he delightedly points out a snow flower.
Stirton also owned other properties in Silver Lake, according to King and Stirton’s one-time real estate agent Kirk Hawkins. Stirton had recently sold a duplex earlier this year, Hawkins said.
According to Stirton's obituary in the L.A. Times, he was born in San Francisco on January 23, 1952, and grew up in San Mateo. The family moved back to San Francisco in 1966, and Timothy graduated from George Washington High School in 1970.
His videos on Facebook were, indeed the work of a professional. He developed an interest in filmmaking early on, attending the SF Art Institute and UC Santa Barbara, and eventually earned a B.A. in Film from SF State in 1976
He moved to Los Angeles in 1980, where he found work as a production assistant, and later as a foreign correspondent at CNN, producing programs on Mexico and Central America. From there he moved on to freelance journalism, publishing several stories on national parks of Mexico and Costa Rica.
He eventually went to work as a field research assistant on demographic studies for USC School of Medicine, later doing similar work with the Rand Corp. and Kaiser Health Care.
But he continued using his production skills when he created tinykiva, a YouTube channel with videos of weekend adventures and camping trips.
His love of exploration also started early. In the middle of college, he took a year off to travel around the world on a shoestring budget, staying in Europe, India and Nepal. Back in San Francisco, he worked as a tour guide of the city. He eventually went on to lead countless hikes with Great Outdoors. He hiked Mt. Whitney twice, and Machu Picchu. He made trips to Brazil, Mexico and Central America. More recently, he led tours at the LA Zoo - where, according to his obituary, other docents would sometimes stop to listen to him.
Stirton was riding his Vespa scooter westbound on Effie Street across Silver Lake Boulevard on June 17 at around 10:30 a.m. when he was hit by a southbound Ford Explorer SUV that sped through a red light.
The SUV driver, a woman in her 70s, said she had tried to slow down the Explorer, "but it began to accelerate," said LAPD Detective Juan Campos of the Central Traffic Division. Currently, the investigation of the incident is on hold, while authorities conduct a forensic vehicle inspection, Campos said.
“It will be months before the mechanical forensic inspection will be done,” Campos said. “Only the forensic inspection will be able to tell us if there anything mechanically wrong.”