Bellevue teacher dies in boating accident

Heather DeHart, 38, a teacher at Bellevue’s Tyee Middle School, died Sept. 27 in a boating accident on Lake Washington.

Heather DeHart, 38, a teacher at Bellevue’s Tyee Middle School, died Sept. 27 in a boating accident on Lake Washington.

DeHart, was on a sailboat anchored near Seward Park when a motorboat plowed over the vessel’s stern and killed her.

DeHart, who lived in Redmond, had been an orchestra teacher at Tyee Middle School in Bellevue since 2003.

Witnesses said the powerboat, piloted by a 17-year-old male, appeared to be moving too fast when the incident occurred around 8:45 p.m.

A Seattle Police Harbor Patrol boat responded to the accident and performed CPR on DeHart, according to Seattle Police spokesman Ofc. Mark Jamieson. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office indicated that she suffered skull fractures and severe brain lacerations from the incident.

The 17-year-old, his 16-year-old passenger, and a 45-year-old man aboard the sailing vessel sustained nonlife-threatening injuries in the accident, according to police.

It was unclear whether the teen driver had obtained the Boating Safety Education Cared required by state law for anyone between the ages of 12 and 20 who is operating a motorboat with at least 15 horsepower.

“As you can imagine, the school and greater community were devastated to learn that the victim in the boating accident on Lake Washington was a beloved Tyee music teacher,” Tyee Principal Judy Buckmaster said in a statement.

Buckmaster began serving as the head of Tyee Middle School this school year.

“I’ve learned so much about her in the last 48 hours, and as the e-mails, calls, and letters pour in, it is evident that she had a personality that was ‘large, enthusiastic, energetic, positive, and student-centered,’” Buckmaster said.

Former Tyee Principal Jerry Schaefer also released a statement about DeHart.

“From the standpoint of the student and parent community, she did so much to promote orchestra at elementary, middle and high school levels,” he said. “That takes a lot of hard work, and more work than was ever expected of her. It will be tough to find someone with her enthusiasm and energy. She was one-of-a-kind.”

Former Newport High assustabt principal Joseph Kempisty taught DeHart’s classes in her absence, and numerous counselors have been available for grieving students, according to Bellevue School District spokeswoman Ann Oxrieder.

DeHart’s profile on the social networking site Friendster indicates that she was a graduate of Central Washington University and a fan of the television show “24.”