LANCASTER, N.Y. — The man killed in Saturday’s tragic boat crash on Lake Erie was a science teacher and lacrosse coach in the Lancaster School District.
Eric Przykuta, 43, died late Saturday in a fishing accident, according to a joint statement released by the district and the Lancaster Central Teachers Association.
Przykuta served as president of the teachers union for the last 10 years and taught seventh-grade science at Lancaster Middle School for nearly 20 years. He also coached boys modified lacrosse.
“He was a highly respected teacher at Lancaster Middle School, regarded as an advocate for children, both in the classroom and on the athletic field,” said Peter Kruszynski, Lancaster Middle School principal. “As president of the LCTA, and on a personal level, he was respected by peers and administrators alike.”
Grief counselors and other emotional support staff will be at Lancaster schools for students, past and present, and for the entire faculty and staff in the district.
Neighboring school districts are assisting with counseling support.
“Eric always put others before himself,” said LCTA Vice President, Mr. Donald Kirsch. “He was the first to show up for anyone in need. His passion for the teachers and students of Lancaster was unmatched. He was a true friend and we will miss him.”
Przykuta was one of three people on board a 23-25′ boat that crashed into the break wall near the middle gap of the Outer Harbor, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Erie County 911 notified the Coast Guard of the crash shortly after 11 p.m.
Two other men on the boat were able to make it safely onto the break wall and call for help. Przykuta could not be located in the water following the crash. He was eventually found on the lake side of the wall around 8:30 Sunday morning. His body was found not far from the point of impact.
According to Coast Guard officials, the water temperature late Saturday was around 45 degrees and waves were less than one foot.
They say it appears none of the men were wearing life jackets. A bag full of life jackets was recovered, and a single life jacket was found on the wall. The victim did not have a life jacket on when his body was found.
The Coast Guard said it’s unclear who was operating the boat at the time of the crash. Officials say it appears speed may have been a factor because the boat apparently hit the wall so hard that it left a mark on the rocks.