PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Seaside school teacher is the second person to die from a Saturday crash on Hwy 26 that happened when a Tesla driver crossed the center line and struck an oncoming Hyundai Tucson van.
Kyle Rieger was headed east on Highway 26 near Necanicum when the Tesla, driven by Fredrick Scheffler II of Portland, hit him head on. Scheffler, 49, died at the scene.
Rieger, 26, was airlifted to OHSU for treatment of his injuries. But in a letter to students and staff, Seaside Middle/High School principal Jeff Roberts said his injuries “were too much to overcome.”
His family arrived in Portland from St. Louis on Saturday night “and had the opportunity to meet with the medical team and spend time with Kyle,” Roberts said in the letter.
‘He loved to help them learn’
Kyle Rieger was nearing the end of his first year directing the Seaside Middle and High School bands. Students who spoke with KOIN 6 News said he made a lasting impression on everyone he taught.
He taught jazz ensemble, band and 6th-7th-8th grade band.
“They asked a couple students to sit-in in the interviews and I was actually the only student to interview him and the first time I ever met Kyle was his first interview for our school,” recalled senior Gracie Klemp, a percussionist and pianist in the school band. “I can’t even put into words how much he loved his students and how much he loved to help them learn.”
Even though the students didn’t know him for a long time, “he just influenced so many people. Walking in every day, you worked and you worked hard, and he helped you and he just made you want to love music.”
Middle school band and music appreciation students said Rieger did everything he could to make sure kids enjoyed coming to class. Parents added the sudden loss came as a shock.
“He was a great teacher,” 7th-grader Kendra Bracey said. “He made a very large impact on me and he knew exactly how to make us better at what we wanted to do.”
Shyra Rainey, an 8th-grader, agreed. “My favorite part was sometimes he would teach us some German.”
Principal Roberts said there will be support in place for students when they return to school on Tuesday.
“When things like this happen people have all different kinds of reactions which may include shock, sadness, fear or even anger,” Roberts wrote. “Grief is a very personal process and there is no ‘right’ way to experience loss.”
He said Rieger’s family is planning a memorial both in the Seaside area and in St. Louis, but plans are pending at this time.
Students said he made a lasting impression on them all.
“Rieger came in knowing he had big shoes to fill,” Klemp said, “and he did.”
Students and community members plan to bring flowers to the school’s flag pole Tuesday morning in his honor.
The exact cause of the crash — why Scheffler’s Tesla crossed the center line — remains under investigation. Scheffler’s co-workers told KOIN 6 News he worked as a branch manager for Premier Mortgage Resources. A statement may be released later in the week.