Park City teen dies on class trip
July 1, 2008
A graduate of Park City High School died Monday when he fell nearly 60 feet from a cliff in the Austrian Alps.
"He did a lot of hiking, rappelling and climbing with his family, it was something they were very proud of," Park City High School Principal Hilary Hays said. "He was a kid out having the time of his life, hiking in the Alps with his friends, and he slipped and fell."
Jeremy Ranch resident Christopher Yeates, 18, was with classmates when he fell, according to John Krenkel, a retired teacher traveling in Europe with the group.
Yeates graduated this year and took the trip after passing an advanced art history course.
"It’s a sad day for us," said Ray Timothy, superintendent of the Park City School District
Yeates slipped over the edge of a trail and within 30 minutes was being airlifted to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, Krenkel explained in an e-mail.
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Yeates received CPR at the scene from two fellow classmates, Hays said.
"They felt like he was already gone because he didn’t have a pulse when they reached him," Hays said, adding that Yeates was hiking with about six others when he fell.
The man hit the back of his head on a rock and fell into about four feet of water. Yeates did not regain consciousness.
Park City resident Lois Hooker’s son Steven was hiking near Yeates and tried to administer CPR.
She did not know if her son saw Yeates fall.
Students from Park City regrouped Monday at a hotel in Lienz, Austria. Tuesday, they traveled from Austria to Venice, Italy.
"We were thinking how great this is, because they are seniors and they are going to be going off to college," Hooker said. "You work hard to raise your children, and here he is, on the threshold of young adulthood."
The students have visited several countries since they flew to Europe in June. The group is scheduled to return to Park City July 24 after ending the tour in Paris.
Krenkel has chaperoned trips to Europe for 17 years, Timothy said.
"The trip is not a school-affiliated trip," Timothy stressed.
This year’s trip consists of nearly 60 Park City students, Hays said.
Some people will finish the trip, Hays said, adding that people who were with Yeates when he fell will come home.
Krenkel retired this year after teaching more than two decades in Park City.
"The greatest impact to the Europe trip has already happened because John is retiring," Hays said.
Still, future trips to Europe will not be cancelled, she said.
"We had never had more than an incident of a kid partying too much, not even a scratch," Hays said.
Tour guide Passports Inc. sponsored the trip.
"It’s been a very positive experience for students who have experienced it in the past," Timothy said.
Chris’ mother Kelly Yeates teaches English at Park City High School.
"This is our family and we’re really, deeply affected by this," Hays said.
Matthew Yeates, the man’s father, did not wish to comment when reached Tuesday.
"We’re all grieving," Hays said. "Chris was a very quiet person who kept with an amazing small group of friends."
Yeates studied television and film production at the high school, Hays said, adding that he was know for witty sarcasm.
"They produced videos and he was a very behind-the-scenes guy, but very committed," she said.
Arrangements for Yeates’ body were still being made Tuesday, she said, adding that a fund to help cover funeral costs is set up at Zions Bank under his name.