PACIFICA (CBS SF) — A beloved middle school music teacher has died in a freak accident when he was struck by his own van in his school’s parking lot, authorities said.
Jerry Downs, 62, died at a local hospital from injuries suffered Wednesday in the Ingrid B. Lacy Middle School parking lot. Authorities said the van began to roll away and Downs apparently attended to stop it, but was run over by the vehicle.
On Thursday, a memorial in the parking lot continued to grow as students gathered, hugged, cried and mourned Downs passing.
“Mr. Downs was the kind of teacher who was really committed to the kids,” said Gustago Lino, whose son was one of Downs’ students. “My son was shocked. He is devastated.”
Chrystal Pepin’s children also were among the students Downs taught.
“He was all about the band,” she told KPIX 5. “He was all about the kids…He was passionate about the kids.”
Pacifica School District Superintendent Wendy Tukloff said Downs was hired in 2002, and served roughly 15 years with the district.
“He had such a passion for music and teaching students to be musicians and performers,” Tukloff said. “He was really one of the mainstays for our program.”
Downs taught at more than one school, so grief counselors have been made available at several campuses, as well as high schools in another district where his former students are currently in attendance.
“We all have heavy hearts, and we’re going to be reaching out to support our Pacifica community,” Tukloff said. “He will be sorely missed, and our hearts go out to his loved ones as well.”