‘Hard to comprehend’: Family, friends mourn Cascade teacher killed in Idaho 55 accident

·3 min read

The death of Kristina Rowley, a 39-year-old teacher and mother, after a hit-and-run accident on Idaho 55 north of Eagle this week has left a “big gap” at her school and “a hole in the community” of Cascade.

Family and those who knew her called Rowley a thoughtful and caring person who was a “natural teacher.” She lived in Cascade and was an art and yearbook teacher in the school district there.

“My wife Kristina was the most selfless, loving person I have ever known,” Chris Rowley, her husband, told the Idaho Statesman via Facebook. “She loved everybody and gave all of herself.”

The Rowleys were married nearly 20 years and had three children together. Their 16-year-old son was in the pickup truck at the time of the crash but not sustain any injuries.

The crash occurred shortly after 9 p.m. on Monday. Police said Natalie Hodson, who is suspected to have been driving under the influence, struck Rowley with her minivan and fled the scene. Rowley had gotten out of her pickup truck to check the lights on a trailer she was hauling north on Idaho 55 near Hidden Springs.

Rowley was a ‘natural teacher’ who ‘loved the children’

Rowley was about to begin her second year as a K-12 art and yearbook teacher in the Cascade School District. Carson Donnahoo, a former student of Rowley’s, described her as a friend to all and a positive force in and out of the classroom.

“When I went through hard times last winter, she comforted me if she passed me in a hallway or saw me in the classroom,” Donnahoo told the Statesman in an email. “She was always there for everyone.”

Donnahoo said Rowley taught him for the first half of last year until he transferred schools. He said her absence “will leave a hole in the community that no one can fill.”

Rowley kept a blog documenting her first year as an art teacher. It featured photos from field trips to Boise and McCall, as well as photos of students and their artwork. Her husband said she truly cared for her students.

“She loved the children at the school and saw her role there as not just teaching them art, but more importantly helping them to be the best they could be,” Chris Rowley said.

Joni Stevenson, superintendent of the Cascade School District, told the Statesman in an email that Rowley was a “natural teacher” who was “engaging, kind, intuitive, intelligent and attuned to her students.”

Friend and co-worker Dorothy Olson said Rowley was an “inspiration” and had a gift for brightening the days of those around her.

‘Losing her is hard to comprehend’

Rowley grew up in Boise and graduated from Centennial High School in 2000, according to an obituary from Potters Chapel. The obituary was published under a YouTube post that will livestream her funeral on Monday. She went on to attend BYU-Idaho and later transferred to Boise State University.

Before teaching in Cascade, Rowley worked as a dental assistant, according to the obituary. She also held positions with the Recreation Center in Cascade and other jobs in the Cascade School District. Rowley was involved in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout her life.

“She loved everyone, especially her family. She was a wonderful daughter, wife, mother and friend to all those she met. She served others with all her might, mind and strength,” the obituary reads.

Those who knew Rowley said her presence will be greatly missed.

“Kristina’s absence will leave a big gap in our school,” Stevenson said. “Losing her is hard to comprehend.”