SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The mysterious death of a high school teacher in San Jose has the Evergreen Valley High School community in a state of shock.
The body of physics teacher and track coach Dr. Richard Johnson was found in the Guadalupe River in downtown San Jose last week. His identity was confirmed by the coroner’s office, but so far there’s no indication of the cause of his death.
“Our whole community is heartbroken,” said Evergreen Valley Principal Kyle Kleckner.
Close to 200 messages from faculty and students have been posted to a memorial for Dr. Johnson on the Evergreen Valley website.
“Dr. Johnson was incredibly well-liked, incredibly kind at Evergreen Valley. He just made a huge impact on our students, and on our faculty,” Kleckner said.
“We’re in shock. We’re trying to figure out what to think because it was totally unexpected,” said Gabe Resendez, who also coached track alongside Dr. Johnson.
Kleckner said Johnson also had a Ph.D. in Education and had recently decided to leave Evergreen Valley to take a job at a college in his home state of Louisiana.
“We were sad to be losing him, but happy for him to have this opportunity to be closer to his family,” Kleckner said.
The coroner’s office is investigating the cause of death, and it is not known if Johnson met with foul play.
The area is sprinkled with several homeless encampments. One man running through the trail near where the body was found called the area “dangerous.”
“You just don’t know, what’s going to happen to you if you go down there. I wouldn’t have my kids or my wife go down there,” said resident Jim Smathers.
The San Jose Police Department referred questions to the coroner’s office which is still investigating the case.