SEATTLE — Friends say 33-year-old Melissa Protz was a passionate, fun-loving woman who always put others’ happiness before her own.
They say she lived life to the fullest … until the very end.
“Yesterday was a very beautiful day for her, swimming in the water, and playing tennis and golf and then sailing,” Melissa’s cousin, Jim Schneider, said Thursday night.
And then tragedy.
The accident happened about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday in the waters of Lake Washington near Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood.
Police say that after the wind died down, the sailboat that Protz was riding on struggled to make it slowly back to shore, but in the darkness it was hit broadside by a motor boat some say was traveling about 50 mph.
Protz was killed and two others were injured.
Rescue workers say it could have been a lot worse.
“There were seven people on the sailboat and four people in the powerboat,” Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said.
Police say the captain of the powerboat, a 46-year-old Renton man, may have been impaired and was arrested for suspicion of homicide by motor craft.
Protz was a sixth- and seventh-grade science teacher at St. Assumption-St. Bridget School. A memorial service was held in her honor at Assumption Catholic Church Thursday night.
At the vigil for Protz, family and friends recalled that Protz loved her students and they loved her.
She had a way with people and especially kids that made relationships easy and learning more fun than work.
“So teaching was important for her. She loved what it stood for and what it meant for the world and I hope she instilled that in all that she touched,” Schneider said.
Funeral arrangements are pending.