Tacoma woman, 19, drowns while traveling in Germany

Loved ones gathered Sunday to pray for a Tacoma teenager who drowned Friday while traveling in Germany.

Haley Rue, 19, died when she was caught in a whirlpool at the base of a waterfall in the Allgau region of the country, according to German news website

Tim Ihssen, Rue’s confirmation teacher at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Tacoma, said her mother had traveled to Germany, and that the church was still working to get more information about what happened. Her family couldn’t be reached Sunday.

Members of the church and Mount Rainier Lutheran High School, where Rue graduated from in 2013, scheduled a prayer service for her Sunday afternoon.

Rue had just finished her first year at Harvard University, where Ihssen said he believed she studied international business.

She had been traveling around Europe this summer, writing for the student travel website “Let’s Go.” Her most recent post was about Innsbruck, Austria, on Wednesday.

“In less than a week, I will be with my best friend in Germany, and this makes me so happy my dimples hurt,” she wrote July 11 on Twitter.

A couple of hundred people attended the prayer service Sunday.

“The fact that so many people gathered at the drop of a hat I think speaks to Haley,” said Virginia Greenwood, who said Rue was friends with her daughter, and she described her as kind and brilliant.

Tracy Schlatter, who said she mentored Rue at the church, described her as a humble leader and a woman of faith.

“We really thought she would be the next Madeleine Albright or Condoleezza Rice,” she said. “She was just that talented.”

Ihssen said Rue was particularly witty and that she participated in soccer, track and basketball in high school and was nationally ranked in forensics.

“The Supreme Court, becoming a pastor, president of the United States — There’s nothing that I’d be surprised Haley Rue could do,” he said. “She just lived like Jesus. She acted so much like the savior.”

Rue’s is the first death in the Mount Rainier Lutheran High School community, which has been open about 12 years, he said.