The man who died Wednesday after he broke through a snow crust while sledding in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier was an instructor at Green River Community College.
Dave Watson had been sledding “in a controlled manner” with his son in the Edith Creek area of the Paradise meadows on the Fourth of July when the accident occurred, Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold said.
While sliding, Watson broke through a snow crust, plunged into Edith Creek and was swept about 30 feet down while remaining under the snow. His son went to get help, and rescuers found Watson with his face submerged in the creek. They administered CPR, and Watson was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was pronounced dead.
Watson, who was in his 50s, was a father to four children, ranging from middle school to college age. He had traveled the world teaching. He had been an instructor at Green River for five years, teaching intensive English as a second language for international students.
Watson’s death shocked faculty members and students at Green River. His students were told about the accident Thursday, then were dismissed. Many of the students who come to the United States, specifically to learn English, stay with local families during their schooling.
Watson had welcomed nearly two dozen students into his home and had been with two students when he was on Mount Rainier.
Friends and colleagues said Watson will be greatly missed.
“Dave was a real compassionate person,” said friend Josh Gerstman. (He had) “a great love for helping people and teaching people.”
“He made them laugh, and enjoy the classes in a very fun way,” said friend Nancy Kremer.
A memorial is set for Monday at Kent Covenant Church, where Watson was a parishioner.