Tom Taplin loved Santa Monica. It’s where he lived with his wife, spent time with friends and ran his filmmaking business.

The massive earthquake that rocked Nepal over the weekend kept him from returning home.

A 61-year-old Denver native who had lived in the beachside city since the 1980s, Taplin was among those killed in a Mt. Everest avalanche that was caused by Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude temblor.

Taplin was at the world’s tallest peak to work on a documentary about its base camp, said his wife, Cory Freyer.

“I was devastated,” Freyer said Monday in a phone interview from the couple’s Santa Monica home. “At first you go, ‘It can’t possibly be.’ It’s just devastating.

“We have loved living in Santa Monica for many years. It’s why we keep our house here and enjoy what is wonderful about Santa Monica. I can’t imagine not having that be part of my life, and I know Tom would feel the same.”

Freyer, also a Colorado native, said she met Taplin in Santa Monica and that the two had been together since 1987. Their mothers are friends in Denver.

Taplin, who was involved in numerous media production projects, owned TET Films & Photography and had an editing studio downstairs in his local home.

Taplin was also an avid mountaineer. He once wrote a book about his journey on Aconcagua in Argentina, the tallest mountain outside Asia.

Freyer said she found out about the Nepalese earthquake soon after it happened but went to bed before receiving any news about the Everest region. At about 6 a.m. the next morning she got a call from the guide who had taken Taplin and two photographers to the Everest base camp.

“The guide called me by satellite phone — he was stuck on the mountain with his climber group — to tell me that Tom was dead,” Freyer said. “He said, ‘I am so sorry.’ He just bluntly said, ‘Tom is dead.’

“It’s overwhelming.”

Taplin has many friends in the area, Freyer said. He studied English and film at Lake Forest College in Illinois before pursuing film and video at Valencia-based California Institute of the Arts.

Asked what she’ll remember about Taplin, Freyer said: “His playful, loving, larger-than-life spirit.”

Local couple: ‘We are fine’

A Santa Monica couple who were reported missing in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake confirmed they are safe.

Loved ones were initially concerned because A. Michelle Page and Daniel Adams had traveled to the region in support of their fair-trade arts company.

“Hello from Kathmandu. We are fine,” Page wrote on her Facebook page. “Communication is impossible here. … You never want to be in a 7.9 earthquake.”

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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