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Santa Monica Documentary Filmmaker Killed At Mt. Everest Base Camp

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A Santa Monica man working on a documentary about base camp at Mount Everest was killed in an avalanche triggered by this weekend's devastating 7.8 earthquake in Nepal.Tom Taplin, 61, had been at base camp for four weeks when the quake struck, according to ABC 7. His wife Corey Freyer said that she reached out to him when she heard there was a quake but she never heard back. Eventually, she received a call from a climbing guide using a satellite phone who delivered the bad news.

The quake triggered avalanches that blanketed base camp. The falling snow also created gusts of wind that blasted through the camp—that's what killed Taplin. Tourism officials estimated that 1,000 people were at base camp or making the trek up the peak when the quake struck. 18 people were killed in the avalanches, including a Google executive. That makes this the deadliest day in Everest history.

Taplin and Frey had been together 24 years. The pair traveled to Antarctica and Patagonia together. She told ABC 7, "We were great companions and we had a lot more things to do in our lives."

Taplin loved traveling to extreme landscapes around the world and mountaineering. Taplin wrote a book about climbing Aconcagua in the early 1990s. On his first try, he fell into a crevasse, broke his arm but was able to pull himself up to where he could reach help. He returned the next year to successfully complete his climb. His IMDb page lists him as an actor and producer, including as the executive producer of the excellent The Beaches of Agnès.

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Freyer isn't sure when Taplin's body will be flown back, but she has a memorial service planned for friends to celebrate his life. She told NBC News, "It sounds trite, but he died doing what he loved doing."

Nepalese officials raised the death toll and said that more than 3,800 were killed in the quake. Fifty-seven firefighters from Southern California are expected to arrive in Kathmandu today to help with rescue and recovery efforts.

Here's a terrifying video from base camp that shows the avalanche: