Dave Kowalchuk, an Edmonton public school principal, was the man who died after falling from the edge of a gorge near the Sicamous Creek Falls, Global News has learned.
On its website, Caernarvon School lists Dave Kowalchuk as principal. He lived in Sherwood Park.
In a statement, the superintendent of Edmonton Public Schools said:
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family of Dave Kowalchuk as they work through this terrible tragedy,” Darrel Robertson.
“Dave will be remembered by all of us at Edmonton Public Schools as a passionate educator and leader who brought a love of learning to school each and every day.
“He will be deeply missed by every student and staff member who had the pleasure to work alongside him.”
Sicamous RCMP said the 53-year-old hiker ventured off of the marked trail and fell. RCMP were called on Monday at around noon.
“We got a call from a hiker who was on a lower trail at the Sicamous Creek Falls park and she came across a body on the trail, alerted the police and we attended,” Sgt. Murray McNeil said.
“We determined through our investigation that he fell from a height. It was an accidental death. We don’t suspect any criminality in this case.”
The Sherwood Park man was hiking with a family member at the time but the two were not together when he fell.
Kowalchuk’s death is the second time in three months that someone has suffered a fatal fall in the park.
In mid-May, a 27-year-old man from the Sicamous area fell to his death. His death was also ruled accidental by RCMP.
In the wake of the two deaths, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District has closed the Sicamous park where the waterfalls are located indefinitely.
The area is not expected to reopen until a safety consultant does an assessment on the area.
The regional district said in both cases the men had left the marked trails which are not fenced in.
Angela Schepian’s children were students at Forest Heights school a few years ago when Kowalchuk was the principal there.
“Just super nice, super friendly,” she said. “He had an enthusiasm for the kids which is why they all loved him so much. Just a kind, compassionate, caring, happy guy.
“He was just like 100 per cent there for the kids. They were always his number one care and concern there,” Schepian told Global News.
“He helped us go through some situations with one of my kids and… it was just nothing but kindness and compassion and wanting to make sure that their time there was good and his time there was good.”
Kowalchuk also left an impression on parent Shelley Miscavitch-Lange.
“He was such a nice man… He just meant a lot to my kids for different reasons,” she said.
“He made you feel valued and loved and respected,” former student Adrianna O’Regan said. “If you didn’t know how to do something, he changed it so that you could learn it in a way that worked for you.”
— With files from Shelby Thom and Megan Turcato, Global News
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